Gayla Cawley

Swampscott to take a tour through Town Meeting

ITEM FILE PHOTO
Swampscott Town Hall.

By GAYLA CAWLEY

SWAMPSCOTT — When Town Meeting convenes tonight, voters will be asked to allocate funds to move forward for a proposed rail trail, and approve zoning changes, including one that would could bring a hotel or inn to Swampscott.

Town Meeting members will be asked to approve a warrant article, requesting $850,000 for the design and engineering of the trail location within the National Grid corridor, as well as the legal fee and costs for acquisition of the easement rights.

Officials have said $240,000 of the requested Town Meeting funds would be used to hire professionals for design and engineering costs. About $610,000 would be for acquisition of easement rights, where the town would work with the property owners (National Grid and/or other parties) to secure the rights. This may be done through eminent domain, with compensation for owners, or by donation/gift of the land.

The Town Meeting funds would not be for construction of the trail, which would be paid with donations, grants, and private funds, officials said.

Peter Kane, director of community development, said previously that the utility corridor is made up of 11 parcels of property. National Grid pays property taxes for all 11 parcels, but doesn’t hold clear title on all of them. Through a title process, numerous owners have been identified, which could include abutters.

Many abutters have voiced their opposition to the proposed trail, citing concerns with privacy and safety. Others mentioned that their land could be taken by eminent domain.

Three proposed zoning changes are on the warrant, but the Planning Board and Board of Selectmen have recommended indefinite postponement on one that would change residential (A-3 districts), which allow up to eight multi-family units through a special permit process, to residential (A-2) districts, which would only allow single-family homes by right, in certain areas.

The down-zoning would include fewer than 80 properties, which includes the neighborhood of Rockland Street, King Street and Redington Street. The other section is the waterfront properties from the Fish House to Sandy Beach on Puritan Road.

Kane said indefinite postponement was recommended by the Planning Board to allow further discussions with property owners, who have expressed concern that changing the district would change their property rights.

Town Meeting members will be asked to amend zoning bylaws that would create a tourist lodging overlay district, and modify where hotels, motels, inns and a bed and breakfast are allowed by special permit. The overlay district identifies more areas where the lodgings are possible, and the purpose is to make Swampscott more of a tourist destination again. The current zoning bylaw has significant restrictions in place, making the creation of tourist lodging difficult in Swampscott, according to town documents.

The tourist lodging overlay district includes the portion of Humphrey Street from the Lynn line to the monument. There are also the properties on the east side of Puritan Road, opposite Sandy Beach. Kane said the Planning Board will recommend to Town Meeting members that two properties on Sculpin Way be eliminated from the district, along with the properties from Phillips Beach to Preston Beach.

There is currently only one bed and breakfast in town on Humphrey Street, and there are no hotels, motels or inns.

Voters will be asked to amend the zoning bylaw by adding affordable housing regulations, or inclusionary housing regulations. The purpose is to encourage the development of affordable housing in Swampscott, which is below the state-required amount of affordable housing units. The town is at 3.75 percent, while 10 percent of all units are required to meet the affordable housing definition, according to town documents.

If a new project, or development, is a certain size, or more based on housing units, it triggers the requirement that at least 15 percent of its units be contributed as affordable. That would apply to a new multi-family development, with 10 units or more; at new subdivision, with six units or more; and an assisted living or independent living facility, with five units or more. Kane said the Planning Board will recommend that the 15 percent drops down to a 10 percent requirement.

Developers can also pay a fee in lieu of offering affordable housing, which would go toward the town’s affordable housing trust. If the zoning change is approved, the requirement would only apply to developments proposed after Town Meeting.

Town Meeting members will be asked to approve lowering the town’s speed limit from 30 to 25 miles per hour.

“As part of the Municipal Modernization Act, by accepting this state statute, the Board of Selectmen would be allowed to reduce the speed limit on certain roads without state approval,” the warrant article reads.

Officials have said the idea is to lower the speed limit in thickly settled areas, and to achieve improved traffic safety on local roads. The change won’t affect state-controlled roads, such as Paradise Road, which has a speed limit of 35 mph. Town roads with posted speed limits lower than 25 mph also won’t be affected by the change.

Fire Chief Kevin Breen is seeking a $645,000 replacement of a 20-year-old fire engine at Town Meeting, which is among other capital project funding requests that would require approval. He said replacement of Engine 22, a 1997 Emergency One Hurricane Cab, which currently serves as a reserve piece, has been in his capital plan for six years.

If the funds are allocated for a new fire engine, Breen said Engine 21, a 2009 Spartan that serves as the frontline piece, would become the reserve piece and the new vehicle would become the frontline piece.

Town Meeting members will be asked to approve a $66.63 million town budget, which includes $28,197,500 allocated to the schools.

Voters will be asked to the authorize the Board of Selectmen to petition the General Court for special legislation allowing the board to issue eight additional all-liquor licenses.

“This article would provide additional business opportunities in our commercial districts, such as Humphrey Street and Vinnin Square, where eating establishments would like to operate with a liquor license,” the warrant article reads. “The 14 existing licenses are currently granted in full.”

Town Administrator Sean Fitzgerald said several weeks ago, the Board of Selectmen issued the town’s last all-liquor license, and two weeks ago, a restaurant applied for a liquor license the town doesn’t have. He said the increase would be an opportunity to bring new investments or new opportunities to Swampscott that would be lost to another community that has the licenses available.

Town officials hope that a historic preservation restriction placed on the Swampscott Fish House, if approved by Town Meeting, will allow them to receive a $50,000 grant for renovations.

Gino Cresta, assistant town administrator and department of public works director, said the Fish House is already on the Massachusetts Historic Register, but the warrant article adds a historical preservation restriction to the building. He said that puts more protection, and exterior work done on the building would require Massachusetts Historical Commission permission.

He said the town has already applied for the $50,000 Mass Historical grant for renovations to the Fish House, which it would still be eligible for if the article passes.

Town Meeting convenes at 7:15 p.m. at Swampscott High School auditorium, 200 Essex St.


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

Oh, Brothers: A taste of Lynn on Marblehead Neck

ITEM PHOTO BY OWEN O’ROURKE
Erica Petersiel and George Markos prepare a hamburger at the Neck Run Cafe on Ocean Street in Marblehead.

By GAYLA CAWLEY

MARBLEHEADGeorge Markos, owner of Brothers Deli in Lynn, has opened a new cafe at Devereux Beach.

The Neck Run Café, located at 105 Ocean Ave., had its soft opening on May 5, and is open three days a week from Friday to Sunday. After Memorial Day weekend, the seasonal café will be open seven days a week until September for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

Markos purchased the café at an auction for an undisclosed price several months ago. He said he acquired the building, which includes a kitchen space and seating area inside and on the deck, because he always liked to have one or two businesses. He’ll continue to operate Brothers Deli, which he has been running on his own for almost 30 years.

He said the business location reminds him of his native Greece, as it is on top of an ocean like the Greek Isles.

“It’s like a home away from home,” Markos said.

Markos said people can order food at the concession stand and sit inside or out. Seating arrangements can accommodate 125 to 140 people.

He said 20 to 25 people will be working in the café, which will include lots of teenagers, who will be taking orders and serving ice cream. The more experienced people will be doing the cooking.

The menu includes fried seafood, such as scallops, shrimp and clams, hamburgers, hot dogs, salads, onion rings, and chicken fingers. Coffee and drinks will also be served.

In his first year of business in Marblehead, Markos said he would be looking to establish a good name, keep people happy and achieve the trust of the residents. He said he would be focused on providing great food, a great atmosphere and a happy place.

“You have to give 100 percent of yourself to the people,” Markos said.


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

Marblehead voters Select tomorrow

FILE PHOTO
The Town House at 1 Market Square, Marblehead, Precinct 1’s polling location.

By GAYLA CAWLEY

MARBLEHEAD The Board of Selectmen race highlights the Town Election on Tuesday, with six candidates vying for five seats.

Polls are open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Polling locations are at The Town House, 1 Market Square, for Precinct 1; The Masonic Temple, 62 Pleasant St., for Precincts 2 and 3; and The Marblehead Community Center, 10 Humphrey St., for Precincts 4, 5 and 6.

A term on the five-member board of selectmen is only for one year, so incumbents have to run annually. Four incumbents — Jackie Belf-Becker, who serves as chairwoman, Harry Christensen Jr., Judith Jacobi and James Nye — are running for re-election. Bret Murray decided not to run for another term. John Liming and Mark C. Moses Grader, chairman of the Finance Committee, are the two challengers looking to get on the board.

Belf-Becker, an attorney, has lived in Marblehead for 41 years. She and her husband have been married for almost 43 years, and have two children who have gone through the Marblehead Public Schools. She is running for her 13th term on the Board of Selectmen and has been chairwoman for nine years, not all consecutively. Previously, she served six years on the School Committee, including three as chairwoman.

She said previously an experienced board is best able to handle collective bargaining agreements, which all have to be renegotiated in early 2018.

Jacobi, who has served on the board since 2000, said previously that it was important to live within a budget so the town doesn’t have to ask for a Proposition 2½ override. She said her years as a classroom teacher are important, along with a calm temperament that allows her to evaluate situations and listen to concerns.

Christensen has served on the board for about 20 years since the 1990s on three different stints. He has been practicing law in Marblehead for more than 30 years. He is married with two children, and has three grandchildren. He has lived in Marblehead all of his life, with the exception of a year he spent in the United States Marine Corps.

Nye, a Marblehead native, is the president and CEO of National Grand Bank in Marblehead. He was first elected to the board in 2005. His three daughters were raised in the town.

The four incumbents talked about being fiscally responsible, while delivering the services residents have come to expect.

Grader has been a member of the finance committee for nine years, and chairman for the past five. He is the co-founder and managing partner of Little Harbor Advisors, an investment management firm based in Marblehead. He is married with two sons, who were educated through Marblehead schools.

Grader said previously the financial health of the town is the No. 1 issue, as the quality of services residents have come to expect cannot be maintained without strong and well-managed financial resources.

Liming, a former selectman, said previously that he would focus on fixing sidewalks so children can walk to school safely. He also stated that he would work on giving more transparency, offering selectmen hours at town hall. If elected, he said it was his hope that he could open the gateway for other residents who may want to run for public office.

The only other contested race is for the Cemetery Commission. Rose Ann Wheeler McCarthy and Rufus Titus are each vying to fill an open seat for a three-year term.

Other uncontested races are for Moderator, Assessors, Board of Health, Abbot Public Library Trustees, Municipal Light Commission, Planning Board, Recreation and Parks Commission, School Committee, and the Water and Sewer Commission.


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

$645,000 for new engine not alarming Swampscott

ITEM PHOTO BY SPENSER HASAK
The Swampscott Fire Department is hoping to get funding to replace Engine 22, which has been in use for more than 20 years.

By GAYLA CAWLEY

SWAMPSCOTTFire Chief Kevin Breen is seeking a $645,000 replacement of a 20-year-old fire engine at Town Meeting.

The new fire engine is among other capital project funding requests that would require approval at Town Meeting on May 15. It is the only equipment request from the fire department.

Breen said replacement of Engine 22, a 1997 Emergency One Hurricane Cab, which currently serves as a reserve piece, has been in his capital plan for six years. The engine has nearly 70,000 miles on it and almost 8,800 service hours.

By comparison, Engine 21, the frontline piece, is a 2009 Spartan, and has more than 43,000 miles on it, along with more than 4,800 service hours. If the funds are allocated for a new fire engine, Engine 21 would become the reserve piece and the new vehicle would become the frontline piece, Breen said.

Breen said the rated lifespan of a fire apparatus is 20 years. The Insurance Service Association begins to derate equipment after its 20th year.

Engine 21 would not be scheduled for replacement until 2029. But if funding was postponed, the town would run into the issue of purchasing a $645,000 apparatus closer to the planned replacement of Ladder 21, a 2004 American LaFrance, which is scheduled for in roughly seven years. At that time, the replacement of Ladder 21 could cost between $1.2 to $1.5 million, Breen said.

The planned replacement program, Breen said, is also to ensure the department doesn’t end with a catastrophic failure of equipment. He said Engine 22 isn’t on the verge of falling apart, but historically, as an apparatus gets older, the equipment requires more service.

Earlier this year, $1,200 to $1,400 had to be spent on a new alternator and voltage regulator. The older pieces get, he said, more is spent on maintenance and the parts are tougher to get, particularly with ladder trucks.

The fire department has three pieces of apparatus, two engines and one ladder truck. Two are frontline pieces and one (Engine 22) is a reserve piece. But because a frontline piece is in repair right now, Breen said he is in the process of trying to borrow a piece from a neighboring community for a couple of weeks. Engine 22 is currently in service.

Typically, a reserve piece is in service 65 to 80 days a year, for instances such as extra staffing for storms, whenever there is a mechanical malfunction with one of the frontline pieces, when one of the pieces goes out of town for mutual aid, or if there is a serious fire in town, Breen said.

Breen said he was very hopeful funding would be approved at Town Meeting.

“All signs are pretty good,” Breen said. “All the committees that we’ve presented to have been receptive to the need.”

If approved, Breen said there will be a specification put out, various manufacturers will bid, and a selection process would take place.

Town Administrator Sean Fitzgerald said he is in support, as it is a project that has been in the town’s capital improvement plan for the past five years. He said Breen has done an excellent job of focusing on replacing apparatus at a time that makes sense for the continuity of operation, and the longer the town holds onto the equipment, there’s more risk that something may fail.

Fitzgerald said the Board of Selectmen, Finance Committee and the Capital Improvement Committee have voted to support the recommendation to Town Meeting.

“We’re just taking those responsible steps to replace a very important piece of public safety equipment,” Fitzgerald said.


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

 

What’s old is new in Swampscott

By GAYLA CAWLEY

SWAMPSCOTT — The former senior center on Burrill Street, vacant since 2007, will soon be transformed into a community arts center.

The Board of Selectmen last week unanimously approved granting Town Administrator Sean Fitzgerald the authority to sign a lease agreement with Reach Arts, a nonprofit group of artists and residents, which plan to convert the building.

“I’m totally thrilled that we’re going to have a cultural arts center in Swampscott,” said Naomi Dreeben, chairwoman of the board of selectmen.

Laura Smith, secretary of Reach Arts, said the two-year lease with an option for a three-year extension is for $1 a year, with the town picking up the cost of utilities for the first two years. Reach would then take over the cost of utilities in the extended part of the lease.

“We have so many hopes and dreams for that building,” Smith said. “I think it’s going to be a really wonderful cultural arts center.”

Peter Kane, director of community development, said that last year, the selectmen agreed to a proposal through the Request for Proposals (RFP) process to grant a lease to Reach Arts to rehabilitate and convert the former senior center on Burrill Street into a cultural center. The proposal from Reach was the only response to the RFP issued in November 2015.

He said the lease allows Reach to operate, rehabilitate and manage the building and the property as a cultural center.

“Additionally, it is a town property,” Kane said. “We are leasing it to the nonprofit, and so the town will also maintain the snow removal for the sidewalks, the driveway, and will maintain the lawn. Reach will have the responsibility of doing improvements to the building, making it occupiable, running programs in the building.”

Through the lease agreement, Kane said the town committees will also have the right to use the space with proper notice and request. The town can also run programs there with request, he added.

If Reach is able to make the proper improvements and run a successful program during the first two years, the town will grant it an extension for three years, Kane said. At the end of the five years, Reach can then work with the selectmen on a new lease, he said.

Since the organization was founded in 2013, it had been working to get its reuse proposal approved by the town, Sydney Pierce, vice-president of Reach Arts, said in a prior interview. The group is homeless and held outside art attacks around town and started an operation virtually after their initial proposal was not accepted by the selectmen in 2013, Smith said. The RFP had been looking for affordable housing, Smith added, and was closed without awarding the building.

Smith said the group looked at other buildings, including the train station and the former Machon Elementary School, but couldn’t find a space as multi-functional as the senior center.

Renovations are expected to cost the group $29,720, according to a summary provided by Reach Arts. Kane said work will start in the basement level.

There will be lead paint removal. Then, he said the group will do analysis on the electrical and heating system in the building. They will do mold abatements, and demolish the kitchen space. There needs to be serious repainting and repairs to close up the building to get rid of the raccoon issue. There will be bathroom improvements, along with wall and ceiling repairs, Kane said.

Smith said the basement is handicapped accessible, with two handicapped-accessible bathrooms. She said the plan is to build a ramp to the first floor (the building has three floors, including the basement, main floor and upstairs), and install an elevator to get people to the second floor easily. The outside of the building will be painted and the front porch will be repaired, she said.

Over April vacation, from April 16 to 23, Reach Arts will offer high school students opportunities to learn home building skills through a professional lecture series, and donate their time and labor to the opening of the cultural arts house. Students will be put to work painting and pruning, Smith said.

Reach Arts hopes to open the arts house in the fall. Programming may include painting instruction on the first floor and performances in the upstairs area where there is a ballroom. Another room on the first floor is planned as a shop where artists can sell their work.

The group’s plan is to create a community kitchen where cooking classes can be held, Smith said. To generate income outside of fundraising and sales, their plan is to rent out different parts of the building such as the ballroom and basement, according to their revenue plan.

“We feel extremely excited and optimistic,” Smith said.


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

Lynn mosque suggests neighbors ‘Ask a Muslim’

PHOTO BY PAULA MULLER
Members of the Islamic Society of the North Shore demonstrate prayer during the “Talk to a Muslim” event held at Masjid Us-Salaam on Lynnfield Street, Lynn.

By GAYLA CAWLEY

LYNN — The Islamic Society of the North Shore gave residents a chance to meet their Muslim neighbors on Sunday, joining 17 other mosques across Massachusetts that also opened their doors.

“This is what it’s really all about, for you to see us, for us to see you, to know each other and hopefully this will be the beginning of a great relation for our community,” said Fawaz Abusharkh, who led part of the “Ask A Muslim” Open Mosque Day discussion at

Islamic Society of the North Shore (ISNS) “Masjid Us-Salam.”

Abusharkh said the three discussion topics — human rights in Islam, Christianity & other religions in Islam, and women’s rights in Islam — were chosen because they were good conversation starters, important, and things that may be the most unknown to people who aren’t Muslim.

Attendees had a chance to witness a Muslim prayer service at the beginning of the program, with prayers set to be held in between discussion topics.

Abusharkh said the open house on Sunday was not any different than what people could do every day at the mosque. Anybody is welcome, any time, he said. He said the event was a way to reach out to people.

“If people know about each other, understand each other, then get together and they’ll love each other because at the end, we all have the same hopes,” Abusharkh said. “We all have the same dreams.

“There is a big misinformation and misunderstanding about many things and Islam is one of those things, and I think it’s important to introduce the religion and to let people know about it. Don’t hate me until you know me,” he continued.

With Islamophobia becoming a big issue not just in the United States, but also in England and other countries, Abusharkh said, “I think it’s important that we tell people that we are like everybody else. Ask me before you judge me.”

Discussion leaders described Islam as a peaceful religion that believes in harmony and coexistence with other faiths and religions.

Sen. Thomas McGee (D-Lynn) said what struck him from his trip to Jerusalem in the 1990s was how much people share in common in the world, and how that was important to focus on, rather than what divides people. One story in particular, regarding Abraham being asked by God to sacrifice his son, Isaac, is important to three different religions, the Christian, Jewish and Muslim faith, he said.

“I look forward to working with you together to make sure that this community continues to be one community that recognizes all faiths, all religions and is one community, and we’re all part of the city of Lynn,” McGee said.

The ISNS bought their 8,772 square-foot building in 2012 for $290,000. Their goal is to make improvements to the facility so it can accommodate 800 people.


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

Marblehead explores cross-racial biases

PHOTO BY PAULA MULLER
Vanessa Grimes, left, of Beverly, and Jackie Belf-Becker, of Marblehead, listen to the “Tell Me the Truth” discussion between Shay Stewart-Bouley and Debby Irving at Marblehead High School.

By GAYLA CAWLEY

MARBLEHEAD — Offering different, but complementary perspectives, a black woman and a white woman explored racism’s impact on their lives, while taking part in a cross-racial conversation on Sunday afternoon at Marblehead High School.

The Marblehead Racial Justice Team hosted “Tell me the Truth: Exploring the Heart of Cross-Racial Conversations,” which was presented in collaboration with the Marblehead Task Force Against Discrimination.

The format was a conversation between Debby Irving, a white woman, who works as a racial justice educator and writer, and Shay Stewart-Bouley, a black woman and executive director of Community Change Inc., a Boston-based organization.

The pair has had similar public conversations in the past, which grew out of Irving’s 2014 book, “Waking up White.” On her website, Irving describes the book as her “cringe-worthy struggle to understand racism and racial tensions,” while offering a “fresh perspective on bias, stereotypes, manner and tolerance.”

“When my book first came out, I wanted to make sure that it wasn’t just a white person talking to an audience, but I wanted to have a person of color there to kind of be speaking with me about the need for this kind of a book,” Irving said.

Stewart-Bouley said the purpose of the discussion was to able to model an honest conversation on race.

“Racism is everyone’s problem,” she said. “It’s not just people of color. It impacts white people too. It’s systemic. In order for white people to really get involved, they need to have the tools to do that and modeling this discussion is one way in which white people can be empowered to start having conversations in their own communities around race.”

Irving and Stewart-Bouley explored the common fears and pitfalls of cross-racial conversation that keep people isolated in their own racial groups, at the expense of personal, professional, and societal growth, according to a description of the event.

White silence was one of the topics the pair explored. Stewart-Bouley said some discussions around race may not always be considered polite. For instance, she said, a curious white child who says “hey, mom, there’s a brown person,” leads to the mother becoming horrified and telling him he can’t say that. Even as a little kid, she said, you’re so normalized not to talk about it. She said there’s a toxicity in nice spaces, where people don’t want to talk about race, that runs deep in white American culture.

When Stewart-Bouley lived in a town in Maine, rather than the island off the coast of Maine where she lives now, she said her neighbors didn’t talk to her, even after an incident that went viral, when she and her family were called the n-word in downtown Portland. Everyone knew about the incident, she said, but no one would say anything, even to ask if she was OK.

Irving said she hoped that people would learn some facts they didn’t know or hear some perspectives that they had never heard before. Stewart-Bouley said she hoped some seeds were planted around them for change.

“I hope they understand the root of the fear of talking and the white silence, what’s behind the white silence,” Irving said. “When I think about racism, which is like a boiling pot of water, sick water that can blow at any time, it’s white silence and white refusal to acknowledge it that’s like the lid on the top.”


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

Planning board to discuss land transfer

By GAYLA CAWLEY

LYNN — City officials are considering abandoning two portions of land to benefit the construction of Market Basket and a new YMCA.

The Planning Board will discuss the transfer plans on Tuesday.

Clint Muche, deputy building commissioner, said the city would be giving up rights to a portion of Wheeler Street and Neptune Boulevard to the YMCA. He said the plan is to demolish a portion of the existing structure, the Lynn YMCA located on Neptune Boulevard, and build an entirely new structure on what is the existing parking lot for the old building, as well as additional space that is under consideration that the planning board could allow for sale.

“The purpose is both to expand the site to provide sufficient space for the proposed development, but also to improve the traffic pattern in the neighborhood,” Muche said.

Economic Development and Industrial Corporation (EDIC/Lynn) Executive Director James Cowdell said the Y is in the midst of expanding its current place of operation. He said the reconfiguration of the street in front of the Y would make it more easily accessible.

Muche said Wheeler Street would no longer be Wheeler, and would connect with Tremont Street, and then connect to Neptune Boulevard. That would create 20,000 square feet, Cowdell said. Muche said the Y currently sits on a parcel with a weird intersection between Wheeler and Tremont. The proposed land transfer would expand the parcel by adding a portion of the existing right of way, he said.

“The Y is going through a process with the planning board right now and hopes to build a brand new YMCA,” said Bruce Macdonald, president and CEO of YMCA of Metro North.

Macdonald said the plan is to develop a new Y right in front of the one that is there. To do that, he said the plan is to purchase a portion of Wheeler Street and Neptune Boulevard.

Cowdell said the YMCA expansion is a multi-million dollar project, but Macdonald declined to provide the cost, only saying that it was a significant figure that would be paid through fundraising dollars. Macdonald said the hope is to get started on the expansion by the end of the year.

Also for planning board consideration, Cowdell said, is a land swap where the city would abandon 50-70 Market Square to allow South Street to be widened for the $30 million Market Basket project. The store is slated to open in August at Western Avenue and Federal Street, and city officials estimate that 400 jobs will be created.

Cowdell said the swap would relocate some of the parking for the business. He said roadwork improvements is the last piece of the project, and the $2 million cost is being paid for entirely by Market Basket. Some of those infrastructure improvements, he said, will be putting in a rotary or roundabout at Magrane Square and new traffic signals at the intersection of Spencer Street.


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

Police chase ends with crash into building, fire

PHOTO BY PAULA MULLER
Gulino’s Auto Body at 1062 Broadway, Revere, was damaged when a suspect fleeing from police crashed a U-Haul truck into the building early Sunday morning.

By GAYLA CAWLEY

SAUGUS — A Cambridge man was arrested after allegedly breaking into a Saugus sub shop and leading police on a chase that ended with him crashing into a building in Revere on Sunday morning, Saugus police said.

Robert Silvia, 50, was charged with nighttime breaking and entering into a building for a felony, attempt to commit a crime (larceny from a building), failure to stop for police, operation of a motor vehicle with a revoked license, speeding and other motor vehicle violations.

Saugus Police responded to a burglary alarm alert from Santoro’s Sub-Villa on Essex Street shortly after 3 a.m. Before the alarm, an officer saw a 2017 Ford U-Haul truck parked outside of the business, police said.

Responding officers found that the restaurant had been broken into and the glass front doors had been smashed, police said.

Officers then saw the U-Haul truck exit from Route 1 onto Walnut Street. Police tried to pull the truck over, but the driver, Silvia, allegedly took off speeding, police said.

When Silvia failed to stop for police, he was pursued from Lynn and then back into Saugus. As it was entering Revere on Route 107, the truck struck a Revere police cruiser, and then crashed into Gulino’s Auto Body at 1062 Broadway, police said.

Silvia allegedly left the U-Haul and ran inside the building. Police found him inside, where he was arrested.

After the truck crashed into the building, it immediately caught on fire, with the blaze extending into Gulino’s Auto Body. The fire was extinguished by responding fire crews.

There were no injuries. The Revere police officer was not inside his cruiser when it was struck, and was able to move out of the way.

Silvia is scheduled to be arraigned in Lynn District Court on Monday.

The incident is under investigation by Saugus police, who are also investigating whether Silvia was involved in a break-in that occurred earlier Sunday morning at a business close to Santoro’s Sub-Villa.


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

All-day K safe for now in Swampscott

By GAYLA CAWLEY

SWAMPSCOTT —School officials can rest easy after the town budget allocated enough to the schools to take free all-day kindergarten off the chopping block.

The Board of Selectmen unanimously approved a $67.63 million budget last week, which is subject to further conversation with the Finance Committee before ultimately coming back to the board for final approval. Town Meeting members will vote on the budget, which is still subject to change in May. The FY18 town budget, as it stands now, is a 1.2 percent increase over last year.

Town officials opted to allocate an additional $950,000 to the schools, $200,000 more than the projected increase in recent months, which contributes significantly to closing their anticipated $275,000 budget gap. When faced with that gap, school officials were considering eliminating free all-day kindergarten, and instead switching to a tuition full-day model, with a free half-day program.

“At last night’s board of selectmen meeting, the board recommended a budget that included additional funding for the school department,” said Superintendent Pamela Angelakis in an email last Thursday. “This additional funding will be used to continue to fund our full-day kindergarten program for the next school year. This is wonderful news and I am grateful for the town’s continued support. Keep in mind that this is only the first formal step in the budget process and it will not be official until a vote on the budget at Town Meeting on May 15.”

The School Committee is scheduled to vote on their $30.49 million FY18 budget on Wednesday. After revolving grants and funds are taken into account, the school district budgeted for $28,272,500 in town allocation. With the increase, the town allocation is $28,197,500, leaving the schools with a $75,000 budget gap. Evan Katz, school business administrator, said school officials are evaluating how to fill the remainder of the gap.

Selectman Peter Spellios said the town has provided the school department with increases well in excess of what other areas of the town budget have received in the past several years.

“The problem with this is that it’s not sustainable,” Spellios said. “We are robbing Peter to pay Paul … The reality for us is that in order for us to have increased the funding, we have now just underfunded some town programs. We have deleted initiatives. We have taken things away.”

Spellios said the selectmen decided to allocate the additional funds in the face of losing all-day free kindergarten. But he said next year, the discussion may not only be kindergarten, but also about cutting AP English, two items that are on the superintendent’s list.

School officials are still in the midst of contract negotiations with the Swampscott Education Association, the teacher’s union, which recently rejected its proposed contract and is potentially seeking higher raises. In December, Katz projected there would be $960,000 in salary increases for school employees and teachers, based on a then-anticipated 1.5 percent raise for educators.

Before ultimately settling on an additional $200,000 to the schools than was initially projected, town officials expressed an uneasiness with advocating additional funds, if it would potentially go toward payroll, rather than programs such as full-day kindergarten. As 80 percent of the school budget is already devoted to salaries, Spellios said last month that contractual increases were outpacing the revenue the town could give to the schools.

That sentiment was echoed by Carin Marshall, chairwoman of the school committee, last month after teachers representing the union gave prepared statements defending their decision for turning down their contract. Teachers said the rejection was based on several factors, the least of which was monetary, and that they didn’t feel respected as professionals. They also questioned how an initial $1.6 million school budget gap at the start of mediation when salary bargaining was underway became $275,000 after a tentative agreement was reached.

To reduce an initial $1.6 million budget gap to $275,000 before last week’s increase in town allocation, there have been revenue increases of $240,000, personnel transition savings of $200,000, program reductions of $314,000, and the $300,000 budgeted for the unknown amount of students who may join the district and require special education services has been eliminated.


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

Protesters in Lynn want to ruffle Walmart’s feathers

PHOTO BY SCOTT EISEN
The Humane League protests outside of the Walmart on the Lynnway as part of a nation-wide campaign to convince the food retailer to source 100 percent cage-free eggs in Mexico on Sunday.

By GAYLA CAWLEY

LYNN — Animal rights activists are urging Walmart to extend its commitment to sell only cage-free eggs in the United States by 2025, to Mexico and Latin America.

About a dozen protesters associated with The Humane League stood outside Walmart’s parking lot on the Lynnway Sunday afternoon, holding signs reading “Stop Walmart Double Standards” and “End This Abuse.” The hashtag #walmartdoublestandards has been circulating around social media.

Since its founding in 2005, The Humane League has been committed to ending the caging of hens in the egg industry worldwide. Activists say the cage-free campaign highlights Walmart’s unjust food practices and its support of animal cruelty in Mexico by continuing practices that it has already committed to eliminate in the U.S.

“It’s important because right now, millions, actually billions of animals each year, chickens in particular, are confined to cages so small that they can’t extend their limbs and live comfortable lives,” said Chris Hendrickson, Boston grassroots director for The Humane League. “Battery cages have been an industry standard for chicken confinement, but as we saw with Question 3 passing here in Massachusetts, 78 percent of Massachusetts voters think that battery cages are not just animal confinement, but in fact, it’s cruelty and should be banned in the state.”
In November, Massachusetts voters passed Question 3, which prohibits the sale of eggs, veal or pork of a farm animal confined in spaces that prevent the animal from lying down, standing up, extending its limbs or turning around.

“We are simply asking them to extend this policy that they’ve already publicly committed to here in the U.S. to the Mexican stores and the Latin American stores,” Hendrickson said. “So, it’s extension of something they’re already actively working on and I commend Walmart tremendously for being so robust in modifying their animal welfare policies.”
A Walmart spokesman said the company has committed to implementing a cage-free policy in its stores by 2025 in the U.S., Canada and the United Kingdom. The spokesman said Mexico presents different challenges, but that cage-free eggs are offered for sale to customers there by choice.

“We care about animal welfare and understand Humane League’s concerns, which is why we have implemented cage-free policies in U.S., Canada and UK,” said Kevin Gardner, senior director of global responsibility communications for Walmart, in a statement. “In Mexico, eggs are the most cost-effective protein people can buy. Moving to a cage-free policy there would increase the cost of eggs by 150 percent, thus possibly eliminating a key protein source for many of our customers.”

Hendrickson, a 28-year-old Medford resident, said he was proud of the “true animal heroes” who showed up for the protest, to show support for those who don’t have a voice in cages. He said simultaneous demonstrations were being held in Chicago and Denver.

“We’re not going to stop until they extend this policy to Latin America to end the cruel practice of using battery cages,” he said.


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

Two-alarm kitchen fire in Chatham Street apartment

PHOTO BY SCOTT EISEN
The scene of 2-alarm fire that took place in a second floor apartment at 333 Chatham St. in Lynn, Sunday.

By GAYLA CAWLEY

LYNN — One woman was hospitalized and dozens of residents were left out in the cold for more than an hour after a two-alarm fire at a three-story brick apartment building on Chatham Street Sunday afternoon.  

Lynn District Fire Chief Stephen Archer said the blaze, reported shortly after 12:30 p.m., was caused by a cooking fire that started in the kitchen of a second-floor apartment at the 34-unit complex at 333 Chatham St. Most of the damage was confined to that apartment and the woman resident was taken to Salem Hospital as a precaution. There were no other injuries.

Archer said the woman would not be allowed to return to her apartment on Sunday. Her apartment, along with the unit below, will need extensive repair, and those residents will be temporarily displaced, he said.

The district fire chief commended the work of responding crews, who extinguished the fire quickly, and were on scene for a little more than an hour.

While fire crews and other first responders worked, residents were left outside the apartment complex in cold temperatures. One elderly man was wrapped in a blanket outside the front door, huddled with his dog. Other residents were still wearing pajamas and slippers. Some were concerned for pets who remained in the building.

Building superintendent Harry Thomas said the blaze was in Apt. 24. He lives near the building and got a phone call that there was a fire. When he came outside, the fire trucks were already there. He said between the 34 units, there were at least 60 residents.

Thomas said there are many elderly residents. No one was prepared to come outside, so he was working to calm nerves.

“Right now, it’s just trying to keep everybody calm,” Thomas said about an hour after the blaze started. “That’s the main thing and just wait for the OK to come back in.”

Residents didn’t get the all clear to return to their apartments until past 2 p.m.

Fire officials said the woman came out of her smoke-filled apartment on her own, but residents painted a different picture. One resident, who didn’t want to be identified, said the fire department used an ax to knock down her glass sliding door. In the back of the building where the fire unit was located, the sliding door and a glass window were shattered.

The man said there was lots of black smoke and the woman didn’t want to come out of her apartment. He walked over and all he could see was pillars of smoke coming out.

Susan Corrigan, who lives on the first floor in an apartment below where the blaze began, said firefighters took the woman out by force.

Corrigan, who has lived in the building for more than a decade, said she left for about an hour and came back to the fire. She said her family was safe, but they were anxious to go back inside. She had a cat and dog in her apartment, but said firefighters checked on the animals and reported they were fine.

When she came upon the fire scene, Corrigan said she was thinking that she lost everything. But she was relieved that the fire didn’t go into her apartment, and that she still has a home.

Bill Thibodeau, 57, said he wasn’t at home when the fire began.

“My girl called and told me (there was a) fire in the building,” he said. “She was concerned about her cat.”

Thibodeau said the cat stayed in the apartment after residents evacuated, but was fine. He said there was no damage to his unit, which was on the other end of the building.

Fred Currier, 66, a Vietnam War veteran, said he has lived in the building for 43 years. He was home and heard the fire alarms go off. He said the building used to have a problem with alarms, but he hasn’t heard them for awhile since the new system was put in. He wasn’t concerned about being displaced. He said the first responder response was great, along with the landlords, who got on the scene quickly and kept residents informed.


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

Wallace has a message for her Lynn community

PHOTO BY SCOTT EISEN
Lisa Wallace during an interview with The Item in her home in Lynn.

By GAYLA CAWLEY

LYNN — Despite being clean for more than a decade, Lisa Wallace, 40, remembers vividly what is what like to struggle with heroin addiction on a daily basis.

She remembers the feeling the disease would give her, like she didn’t fit in with other people, or experiencing the insecurity that somehow others were better than her. “Fake it until you make it” was one of the phrases instilled in her during counseling and rehabilitation. She began picturing herself as the soccer mom, married with children. Later on, that became a reality.

Wallace, a Lynn resident, said she didn’t ever think she’d get to that point. On top of a happy marriage to Joe, whom she calls Shugg, and five children, including one they had together, Wallace is in the midst of living in her second home, and also has a vacation house in Florida.

But before that, the Saugus native found herself prostituting and doing drugs. She didn’t start off as a heroin addict. She started off as the typical kid, smoking weed and drinking.

“I spent the majority of my life fighting a lot to survive,” Wallace said. “When I met my husband, he’s kind of like, what’s that movie, Pretty Woman. He’s my Richard Gere. He doesn’t have that kind of money, but he was the one person who didn’t look at me as just being the person who sold herself on the street or whatever. He actually liked me and paid attention to me. From the first day I met him, it’s 18 years later. He hasn’t left my side.”

Wallace said Shugg knew she had a problem, but she was good at hiding things. He started catching on and one day told her to get help because he loved her too much. She ended up overdosing that week and wound up in the hospital. Leaving wasn’t an option, as it was court-ordered. She spent 14 days in the Melrose-Wakefield Hospital psychiatric ward.

Wallace said she thought at the time the care was stupid, because she didn’t realize she was an addict and that there was something wrong with her. She just wanted to get home. Then one of her bunk mates left the hospital, but came back before Wallace’s stay was up, because she had almost died. That’s when it sank in.

“That could happen to me,” Wallace said. “All the situations I put myself in, I was like, oh my God. I got real scared. It started to sink in when they were telling me, you have a disease. This is not like your choice.”

Wallace went on to get treatment and counseling at BayRidge Hospital in Lynn, where she was taught that she was not her disease and that it was just something she had. She also went to Alcoholics Anonymous in Beverly. She said she quit cold turkey and remembers the pain of withdrawal. The methadone clinic didn’t appeal to her as a treatment option, but she brings friends there to get treatment.

“I went through withdrawal,” Wallace said. “It’s the worst. I don’t wish that on anybody. That type of pain — my legs were kicking involuntarily. I would just be sitting there. You’re cold and hot at the same time. What the hell is that? You’re throwing up but hungry. You’re dizzy and tired and it drains you of everything. It’s the worst thing to go through, withdrawal.”

With all the pain that addicts go through, being dependent on a chemical and loathing themselves for it, and then going through the pain of withdrawal with trying to get clean, Wallace said she found herself angry when she saw the comments people were leaving on a Lynn Police Facebook post last weekend. The post alerted the community that there had been three fatal apparent heroin overdoses in a two-day span.

She especially found the use of the word “junkie” insulting, which she said is the worst thing someone can call an addict, and could send them spiraling back into using again. In reaction, Wallace wrote a post on her own Facebook wall, detailing her own story and urging people to think of her the next time they judge an addict harshly.

Following the Lynn Police Facebook post, the fatal overdoses continued. According to police and the Essex County District Attorney’s office, there were six fatal apparent overdoses within a five-day span from Feb. 3-7, including five from suspected opioids and one from suspected crack cocaine.

“Everybody just needs to leave everybody alone,” Wallace said. “And as a community, we need to start helping and shut up. If you’re not going to help an addict, don’t hurt them. If we’re all worried about the whole drug epidemic thing happening, why would you put somebody down?”

Now clean, Wallace said there’s always a chance of relapse for any addict. She’s seen heroin and opioid addiction kill lots of former classmates from her Saugus High School graduating class of 1994. She thinks to help the problem, people should focus on treating the addiction and the person. Drugs are always going to be there, even if people try to take them away. She said she doesn’t agree with legislation from Gov. Charlie Baker that limits the amount of opioids a doctor can prescribe.

“You don’t limit doctors from writing prescriptions, because then people that are sick, like children that have cancer, can’t get medication and the opioids for their kids to be able to fight to live,” Wallace said. “You’re making it hard for them. You gotta treat the disease. Because if you didn’t have the addict to want the drug, you wouldn’t have the problem. So, you don’t stop the drug. Drugs are always gonna be here, no matter if it’s heroin, no matter if it’s weed.”


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

Civil Rights-era lessons still resonate today

PHOTO BY SCOTT EISEN
Clarance Jones, a Civil Rights activist, led the North Shore NAACP.

By GAYLA CAWLEY

Editor’s note: This is the second of several profiles of Lynn residents the Item will publish during Black History month.

LYNN — Clarance W. Jones, 78, a former president of the North Shore Chapter National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) has spent his life fighting for racial equality.

The Lynn resident was born and raised in South Carolina. He was living there from the late 1930s  to the late 1950s, where segregation was a way of life. To survive in the south, he said, everyone knows you have to stick together. Family is everything.

“When you go to town in the south, this side is for the colored,” Jones said. “You had a town called the colored town and the rest of it was the white town … That’s the only place you could basically go. They had a movie theater. You had to sit way the hell up top, not down front. That’s how it was. If you ride the bus, safest place now is really the back of the bus. But down there, everybody wanted to get in the front of the bus. That’s crazy if you want to think about it. But that’s how it was. I went through all of that.”

Jones said he sees the country reverting back to the 1960s, that there’s lots of hidden prejudice, fanned by the election of President Donald Trump.

“Even now to the day, you’re going to have to defend what you own and believe in,” Jones said.

“This country, as far as I’m concerned is reverting back to the ‘60s and it’s terrible. I thought we went past that, but I guess we haven’t.”

Jones eventually left South Carolina for Washington D.C. There, he joined the NAACP, and attended the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’sI Have a Dream Speech” on Washington Mall in August 1963 as a marshal. His job was to accompany Roy Wilkins, former executive director of the NAACP, and sit perched in a tree to keep a lookout for any possible disturbances. But there wasn’t any. He called it the most peaceful march he’s ever seen.

When he came to Lynn in 1963, he said the perception was that it was supposed to be desegregated, but he said that was bull (excrement) and still is. There were three minorities in the Lynn Police Department when he arrived and none in the fire department.

He was elected to the first of nine consecutive terms and 18 years as North Shore NAACP president in 1972. During his tenure, the organization worked to put recruitment and training programs in place to get more blacks and minorities hired at the police and fire departments. Schools were pressured to desegregate and City Hall departments were urged to integrate their staffs. The organization started the Community Minority Cultural Center.

Before his time at NAACP president, he was also a community activist in Lynn. The Gaylord Inter-Community Association, or Gaylord Club was formed, and became a backdrop for civil rights. As chairman of the Gaylord education committee, Jones spearheaded the Lynn Educational Action Program (LEAP), an after-school tutorial program for disadvantaged students.

Two years after he attended King’s speech, James Reeb, a minister and civil rights activist, was killed by white segregationists in Selma, Ala., after participating in one of King’s marches. This prompted Jones and other residents to march to Lynn City Hall. They did the same thing after King was assassinated.

Following King’s murder, Jones said he was asked personally to keep youths from burning the city of Lynn down, and helped to keep the peace in the community, despite rioting in other municipalities.

Despite never getting elected to the Lynn City Council, Jones boasts that he was the first black to win nomination and placement on the final ballot.


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

Seven OD in Essex County

By GAYLA CAWLEY

LYNN — Essex County was hit hard by the heroin epidemic over the weekend, with seven fatal apparent overdoses reported, nearly half of its 16 fatalities in January.

In Lynn and Peabody, the fatalities from Friday morning to Sunday morning outpaced their numbers in January.

Three people died from apparent heroin overdoses in Lynn during that time span, while two fatalities were reported last month, according to Carrie Kimball Monahan, spokeswoman for the Essex County District Attorney’s office.

In Peabody, two people died apparently from overdoses over the weekend, while there was one reported fatality last month, Monahan said.

Before the weekend, there was one death from an apparent overdose Feb. 1 when a 45-year-old man died in Methuen, Monahan said.

The first fatal apparent overdose Lynn Police responded to was on Andrew Street, where they found a 52-year-old woman. Monahan said her office got the call approximately 9 a.m. Friday.

With an unattended death, the Essex State Police Detective Unit, formerly known as the CPAC unit, assigned to the DA’s office, also responds, along with the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner.

The CPAC unit responded to a second Lynn fatal overdose at 7:30 p.m. Saturday on Broad Street for a 49-year-old man. The third was Sunday at 6:13 a.m. on Lynn Shore Drive, where a 33-year-old man was found.

In Peabody, a 34-year-old woman died on Cashman Road at approximately 2 a.m. Friday, according to the DA’s office, and a 36-year-old man died from an apparent overdose around 10:20 a.m. Saturday on Brown Street.

There were also apparent overdose deaths in Lawrence and Haverhill, with each town reporting one each this weekend.

There were 16 fatal apparent overdoses reported in Essex County in January. Aside from the two in Lynn and one in Peabody, there were three in Salem, two each in Gloucester, Lawrence and Salisbury, and one apiece in Haverhill, Newburyport, Amesbury, and Saugus, according to the DA’s office.

Lynn Police reported their department’s response in a Facebook post on Sunday.

“We have had at least three fatal apparent heroin overdoses so far this weekend,” Lynn police said in a statement. “We believe there have also been at least 15 in the greater Boston area. Not using is best preventative care, but not using alone and having Narcan (the lifesaving overdose drug) available are the next best. If you have a phone, you’re not alone. Make a call.”

Lynn Police Lt. Christopher Kelly said the department has to wait for the medical examiner’s office to officially rule the cause of death. But from the preliminary investigation, the deaths can be ruled as possibly drug-related. He said on Sunday afternoon that the medical examiner’s office, which takes jurisdiction over the case, told the department that they had seen a large spike in the past 24 hours of possible opiate deaths.

“We’ve gone to a few medical calls that have been for deceased persons and during the investigation, the suspected use of opiate drugs was prevalent during some of these,” Kelly said. Kelly said the numbers are “alarming.” He said police, by posting on social media, wanted to get the word out to the public, particularly addicts and families of addicts, that overdoses typically come in waves, based on a particular batch of heroin, or what it’s being mixed with.

Particularly when the fentanyl, which is increasingly being mixed with heroin, is strong, the result is potentially fatal.

“Any time (there’s) illegal drug use, there’s always that risk of a fatal overdose,” Kelly said on Sunday. “Obviously, in the last 24 hours, that risk has spiked dramatically.”


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

Marblehead mesmerized by Syrian refugee’s story

PHOTO BY PAULA MULLER
From left, Renee Keaney, Ann Cohen and Deborah Cherry, all from Marblehead, listen as Amira Elamri, a Syrian refugee who lives in Watertown, talks about her life at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Marblehead on Sunday.

By GAYLA CAWLEY

MARBLEHEAD — As the legal battle continues over President Donald Trump’s executive order that would temporarily ban all refugees and travel from seven Muslim-majority nations, a Syrian mother shared her own refugee story at Unitarian Universalist Church of Marblehead on Sunday.

The talk, which took place in front of about 150 people, was billed as “the human side of a complex issue,” by organizers of the Meeting House Speaker Series. Amira Elamri described conditions in Syria, which went from a peaceful home for her and her family, to a war-torn country almost instantaneously, and her family’s escape from Damascus three years ago.

Recently, a federal judge blocked Trump’s travel ban, which includes Syria, and his administration’s appeal of the decision was denied.

Elamri, 32, said before the war her family lived in a very quiet and peaceful way in Syria. She said there was no problem at all, as Syria was a mixture of Christian and Islam. People lived in harmony.

“Just a day, a single day flipped all of that upside down,” Elamri said. “Nobody knew that was coming and that’s why, do not take anything for granted. And always be grateful for everything you have. I took it for granted. And I thought that what I had would remain mine forever. But I was wrong. In 2011, when the war started, me and my family, and most Syrians lost everything. My personal family lost their main source of income. We got stuck in our house in (a) Damascus suburb for several days.”

She said her kids saw fire under the bedroom window. Her family heard bombs and explosions and could begin to differentiate just by the sound what weapon was being used. At some point, she said they couldn’t reach their house, because the highway wasn’t safe to drive. They began spending nights at hotels in downtown Damascus away from their home, Elamri said.

“Our neighbors got killed,” Elamri said. “Later on, we got the news that our dream house was vandalized. I felt angry, heartbroken and devastated.”

From there, the family moved into a studio apartment in downtown Damascus, where Elamri and her kids slept on the same bed. Her husband, Bassel Aldehneh, slept in the living room on the sofa. The view was great on the 15th floor, she said, but there was no electricity, so no elevator service in Damascus. So, she and her two kids had to go up and down the stairs every day with heavy school bags. They also had no water, because it couldn’t go up to the 15th floor without a pump.

Elamri said she had to keep a schedule for when the family could do laundry, shower and cook. In winter, they had to wear coats inside the apartment, because there was no heat.

In 2013, Elamri said the family got a U.S. visa, but didn’t want to use it. They received threats in Syria, and decided to move to Lebanon, where they opened a business.

“But also, threats kept coming and we decided to take the chance and use the U.S. visa,” Elamri said. “In 2014, we came to Watertown looking for a safer place for our kids. We applied for asylum.”

She and her husband were able to get their work permits. They went from arriving in the country with only their clothes to achieving much afterward. Elamri said she works as an inclusion aide in public schools, while her husband is a travel agent. Her kids, now 7 and 11, are happy, safe and have lots of friends.

“We couldn’t have done anything without the people that we met,” Elamri said. “They offered us help, resources, respect, and that’s how all communities should be showing, welcoming the newcomers.”

Her family is lucky, Elamri said, but millions are still suffering inside Syria, in Damascus suburbs and in camps.

“All they need is a shelter and a safe place,” she said. “We cannot turn our backs because they cannot do it on their own. Should the U.S. stop receiving refugees because ISIS is getting in with Syrian refugees, that’s not true. Because, first Syrians are fleeing ISIS themselves and the person who connects ISIS with Muslim, this is not OK, because ISIS are barbaric and Islam is a peaceful religion. If ISIS claims they are Muslim, believe me, they are not, because what they’re doing is not what Islam is. They do not represent Islam.”

Elamri said despite efforts to improve vetting by the Trump administration, people who come to the U.S. already experience an extreme vetting process that could take up to two years. When they arrive, she said, Syrian refugees don’t live on taxpayer dollars or welfare. They receive a few hundred dollars from the government for housing and furniture, and small monthly payments, which stop after six months.,

Typically, only the financially well-off Syrian refugees are able to come to the U.S., with the less fortunate living in camps. So, Elamri said the Syrian refugees in America are usually highly educated and positively contributing to society.

“Syrians left Syria because they wanted a safer and better place for their kids,” Elamri said. “Don’t you think they deserve a chance to survive? I think I will survive and I will keep fighting for them and for everybody. Let’s not let this crisis divide us, instead unite us.”

Before her lecture, Elamri dealt with a disturbance from a woman outside the church, who criticized her for wearing a hijab, a head covering worn in public by some Muslim women. She said it was the first time that had happened to her in Massachusetts, and said the interaction was most likely due to ignorance, or a lack of knowledge about the Muslim religion.
“The hijab is not about being oppressed,” Elamri said. “It’s a choice.”


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

Lynn man dies in fire

PHOTO BY KEITH VIGLIONE
Lynn Fire Chief James McDonald speaks with other Lynn firefighters during a 3-alarm fire at 11 Beach Road Sunday morning.

By THOR JOURGENSEN and GAYLA CAWLEY

LYNN – A Beach Road resident died in an early Sunday morning 3-alarm apartment fire that left 26 people homeless, fire officials said.

The adult male victim’s name and cause of death were not initially provided by Lynn Fire Chief James McDonald and the state Fire Marshal’s office. But McDonald said the man died in the 11 Beach Road apartment where the fire started.

Firefighters responding at 4:46 a.m. to the 20-unit white structure facing the ocean found fire blazing in the rear third-floor apartment overlooking an alley. McDonald said the fire started in the apartment’s living room.

“We made good progress and knocked it down very quickly,” he said.

Tenants, including a number of elderly residents, were given shelter on an MBTA bus called to the fire scene and parked on Lynn Shore Drive. A responding American Red Cross crew and building management worked to find hotel rooms and temporary apartments for the tenants.

Shawanda Pierre Louis awoke to the sound of someone screaming Sunday morning. At first, she thought she was dreaming before she fled her apartment.

“I just thank God we are OK,” she said.

Richard Baker was drinking coffee in his apartment when he heard banging from the direction of the unit where the fire started.

“I went down the hall. There was smoke. I grabbed my shoes and left,” Baker said.

Baker said his cat, Willie, also made it out of the building safely.

McDonald initially said the building is uninhabitable for at least several days. He said firefighters have responded to few, if any, previous calls at 11 Beach Road and said building fire alarms were functioning at the time of the fire.

Sawyer Property Management representative Debra MacLeod and coworkers worked with fire officials Sunday morning to help tenants enter the building and retrieve medicine and other essential items.

“We want to make sure they are well taken care-of,” she said.

MacLeod said 11 Beach Road is home to residents who have lived in the building for more than 25 years and tenants who recently moved in. Sawyer bought the building in 2015 and MacLeod said the company spent $200,000 on common area and apartment renovations.

McDonald said 55 firefighters with mutual aid support from Salem, Saugus, Swampscott and other communities, fought the fire.

 

Thor Jourgensen can be reached at tjourgensen@itemlive.com. Gayla Cawley can be reached at gcawley@itemlive.com

Swampscott cuts off VFW

By GAYLA CAWLEY

SWAMPSCOTT — Town officials have seen enough from the Swampscott Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) Post 1240, and have opted to temporarily suspend the bar’s liquor license, after four violations in less than a year’s time.

The liquor license was suspended for 30 days, effective Jan. 27. The VFW can start serving alcohol again on Feb. 27, but only until 8 p.m., for another 30 days. Their bar usually remains open until 12 a.m. During that time period, all of the bartenders would be required to attend Alcoholic Beverages Control Commission (ABCC) training. Management is required to come before the Board of Selectmen again in April.

Naomi Dreeben, chairwoman of the Board of Selectmen, said the VFW’s license had not been suspended previously, but after viewing their four infractions, the selectmen felt that something major had to happen. The infractions were presented during a disciplinary hearing last Wednesday, with Swampscott Police Chief Ronald Madigan and Detective Ted Delano present.

“We had to ensure the community would be safe,” Dreeben said.

Three of the infractions involved over-serving patrons, and the fourth involved serving alcohol to nonmembers of the club, when no members were present. The club’s license allows members to bring in guests, but people who aren’t members are not allowed to be there alone. During the fourth infraction, police were doing a routine alcohol compliance at the VFW, and determined that seven people were present at the bar, but there were no members there.

Two of the incidents, involving serving patrons who were intoxicated, resulted in car accidents, and subsequent arrests for OUI liquor. Both drivers told police they had been drinking at the VFW. One woman said she been served four tequilas with midori, and police were unable to perform a breathalyzer test due to her level of intoxication. The other driver’s alcohol test came back at twice the legal limit.

The third person who was over-served was arrested for disorderly conduct, after urinating in public, in front of the VFW. The man told police that he had three beers at the VFW post, but Delano said his blood alcohol level of .182 was not consistent with that number of drinks.

Two infractions occurred last March, one occurred in September and the fourth was in November.

Dreeben said before the four infractions that were presented last week, neighbors had come before the selectmen in 2014 with similar concerns, when the VFW’s liquor license was up for renewal. They reported unruly behavior and unsafe driving.

Madigan said after the first two infractions last March, representatives from the VFW were brought into the police department to address the incidents, but no further action was taken.

Laura Spathanas, vice-chair of the board, said public safety is important, including that of VFW customers, residents who may come by the area of the club, and the property nearby. She said some of the neighbors have been concerned about their property being damaged.

“You’ve met with the chief of police,” she said. “It seems like that wasn’t really a wake-up call as to really buckle down and make some serious changes.”

VFW finance officer George Fitzhenry said he doesn’t believe that the man caught urinating drank at the club. He thinks it was a man who had been barred from there, and was drinking elsewhere.

Fitzhenry said steps have been taken recently to ensure that people can’t just walk into the VFW. Two months ago, he said a key card system was installed, and only members have access. Three other organizations use the VFW, and are also considered members. Key card access shuts off after 11:30 p.m. The only people with 24-hour key card access are Fitzhenry, the bar manager and the custodian.

He said the bartenders are TIPS (training for intervention procedures) certified, so that they don’t overserve. The bartender who served the woman involved in the accident was in the process of TIPS alcohol certification, but the others involved in the infractions had completed their training.

“We’ll do whatever we can to make it safer,” Fitzhenry said. “We’ve taken some steps and we’ll take whatever other suggestions are made.”

Selectman Peter Spellios questioned why the manager wasn’t present and was told by Fitzhenry that he had some health issues. Spellios said there were lots of things that indicated there was vast disorganization going on at the VFW and very little accountability. He said the manager wasn’t managing, and it was unclear who was running the bar.

In addition to attending mandatory ABCC training, the selectmen required that the manager appear before the board in April, and that representatives submit in writing ways to remediate the problems identified during the hearing.

“There really needs to be a lot more presented to us when you come back,” Spellios said. “Respectfully, there was very little said tonight, I think, to give confidence that things are being run well.”

The VFW has the right to appeal the suspension to the ABCC. Calls to the VFW requesting a manager or a representative for comment went unreturned.


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

Swampscott pumps the brakes, eyes town-wide 25 mph limit

By GAYLA CAWLEY

SWAMPSCOTT — Town officials have taken the first steps toward lowering the speed limit from 30 to 25 miles per hour, citing safety concerns.

“It’s definitely for safety,” said Peter Kane, director of community development. “That is the prime reason you do it.”

Kane said the idea is to lower the speed limit in thickly settled areas. If this were rural Massachusetts, he said, slowing cars down might not be as much of a concern because homes are set back so far. But when a town is dense, more people are out, and cars should be traveling slower.

Last Wednesday, the Board of Selectmen approved lowering the statutory speed limit on all town-owned roadways within a thickly settled or business district, acting on the recommendation of the Traffic Study Advisory Committee.

“The committee recommends opting in to this on a town-wide basis due to the density of development of town as well as the street network,” Kane wrote in a letter to the selectmen. “The committee has been asked to consider speed limit reductions from 30 mph to 25 mph on Stetson Avenue and Puritan Road, and feel that this option is the best method to achieve those reductions, as well as achieve improved traffic safety on our local roads.”

Reducing the speed limit requires a Town Meeting vote in May after the board voted to “opt in” to the Municipal Modernization bill, signed into law by Gov. Charlie Baker last summer. One aspect of the bill gives local government the authority to make the speed limit change, bypassing MassDOT review and study.

The Boston City Council also recently acted upon the law, by voting to reduce the city’s speed limit to 25 mph. The change took effect on Jan. 9.

Kane said the change won’t affect state-controlled roads, such as Paradise Road, which has a speed limit of 35 mph. Town roads with posted speed limits lower than 25 mph also won’t be affected by the change.

The selectmen also approved two other recommendations from the traffic advisory committee. Neither require a Town Meeting vote.

One change was to add a “No Parking Here to Corner” restriction on the southwest side of Burpee Road from the hill crest south of Jessie Street up to the intersection with Buena Vista Street. Prior to the modification, there were no on-street parking restrictions on Burpee Road.

“By doing this, it’ll improve the visibility of vehicles at the stop sign on Buena Vista Street to more easily see traffic coming down the hill on Burpee Road,” Kane wrote to the selectmen.

The other change was to add a flashing pedestrian crossing signal on Humphrey Street at St. John’s Church. In December, John Lofgren, 73, of Lynn, was killed after he was struck by a car while crossing Humphrey Street in front of the church.

Kane said the request was in response to that accident. There have been other previous incidents at that location. He said the crossing signal can enhance safety by reducing crashes between vehicles and pedestrians at unsignalized intersections and crosswalks by increasing driver awareness.


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

Half-dozen weekend shootings in Lynn

ITEM PHOTO BY GAYLA CAWLEY
Lorraine Blowers DePietro sits in her car and shows where the car was hit by crossfire during a shooting on Saturday.

By GAYLA CAWLEY

LYNN — Lynn Police are investigating as many as six shootings in a 36-hour time span. One person whose car was hit by gunfire claims she was told by authorities the incidents could be retaliatory from Friday night’s fatal shooting that claimed the life of 29-year-old Hanky Betancourt.

Lynn Police Lt. James Shorten confirmed there have been three to six shootings between Friday around 6 p.m. and midnight on Sunday morning. For the safety of officers and to protect everyone involved, he declined to release further information, but said the shootings are still under investigation.

Shorten said one arrest is part of the investigation, and may or may not be related. Matthew Sao, 24, of 121 High Rock St., was arrested Saturday night and charged with firearm-related offenses, drug possession with intent to distribute, violation of the city knife ordinance, receiving stolen property and failure to stop/yield.

Betancourt, of Lynn, was shot in the area of Chestnut Street on Friday, and was pronounced dead at Union Hospital. No arrests have been made, according to the Essex County District Attorney’s office.

But Lynn native Lorraine Blowers DePietro, who was caught in some crossfire, said police told her there have been six to seven shootings in that timeframe and many of them are retaliation from Betancourt’s shooting.

DePietro, 51, lives in Georgia, but is visiting her sister, Kristin Blowers Melendez, and other family members in Lynn. She arrived Friday night and is planning to leave Monday. She said she was driving her brother-in-law’s gold SUV by Goodridge Street on Saturday just after 5:30 pm., when a bullet went through her driver’s side window and lodged itself in the leather seat she was sitting in, narrowly missing her body.

DePietro said she was out running an errand for her mother, Tally Blowers, and was on the phone with her husband, when she noticed a car that started to take a left hand turn, before the driver apparently changed his or her mind. At that point, she remembers hearing a weird, thud sound, and thought someone threw a bag or a water balloon at her car.

When she turned her head, DePietro said she saw the bullet hole, and thinking she had been shot, called 911. She said she had a burning sensation underneath her armpit and on her back from where the bullet whizzed by, but thought she had been hit. Within minutes, Lynn Police arrived, helped her out of her vehicle, and checked her back, but didn’t find any blood or signs of entry. Her coat protected her from worse injuries, but she was left with a burn mark and a bruising welt.

“All that was between me and the bullet was my leather seat cover and my flannel coat,” DePietro said.

Looking back, DePietro said her shooting could have easily been fatal. If she had her seat reclined, rather than situated straight, the bullet could have gone through her neck or into her body. If she was driving a car, rather than an SUV, the bullet could have gone through her head, because she would have been lower to the ground, she added.

“I do also realize how very lucky I am and how blessed,” she said. “(The bullet) just missed by millimeters. I felt the heat and the burning sensation.”

After her car was hit, DePietro said she heard three more gunshots, and at least one person was taken to Salem Hospital from the car in front of her that had started to take a left hand turn. Police told her nine shell casings were found on the ground.

“My first thought was wow, I’m pretty oblivious,” she said. “I didn’t even know a gunfight was going on in front of me. I’m too trusting of the area.”

Melendez, 42, said one police officer told her that a lot of the gunfire over the weekend was because of the fatal shooting on Chestnut Street. It was all retaliatory, she said.

“It was scary,” Melendez said of her sister’s incident. “You don’t ever think it would happen so close to anyone to you know …Things happen for a reason and this happened for some reason.”

Employees at nearby Mandee’s Pizza on Goodridge Street, described hearing several gunshots. Cortney Cook said she thought the shots were fireworks until she heard the police coming down the street. Christian Sanchez, another employee, said he heard as many as 12 gunshots, but didn’t see anyone get hit.

Scanner reports also indicated police responded to a shooting shortly afterward on Hanover Street. According to the Lynn Police incident log, eight gunshot reports were received from throughout the city between 8:13 p.m. Friday and 11:27 p.m. Saturday, beginning with the Chestnut Street shooting.

For DePietro, she thinks she had some help from a higher power. She and her family run a nonprofit, Hayley’s Hope Foundation, which started after another one of her sister’s only child died from suicide. The foundation tries to prevent suicides from occurring.

Melendez said when she looked at DePietro’s burn mark, it looked like angel wings. They think Hayley played a role in preventing further injury.


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

Is Boston Street in Lynn the unhealthiest street in America?

PHOTO BY ALENA KUZUB
Wendy’s and Burger King represent some of the fast food restaurants along Boston Street.

By GAYLA CAWLEY

LYNN — Does Boston Street tickle your taste buds or turn your stomach?

In a half-mile stretch, you can love it at McDonald’s, have it your way at Burger King, think outside the bun at Taco Bell and pretend that it’s way better than fast food at Wendy’s. There’s also Dunkin’ Donuts, which America runs on. Is this street fast food heaven or hell?

But never fear. The street’s dichotomy has a Planet Fitness located in the same plaza as McDonald’s. A person can reward himself for a calorie-torching workout by stopping at the golden arches for some french fries and a quarter pounder.

That’s exactly what 13-year-old Carlos Alas, of Lynn, said he wants to do after he accompanies his mother for a workout at Planet Fitness. He was dining at Wendy’s with some friends on Sunday, but said McDonald’s is his favorite fast food place on Boston Street. He likes the fries because they’re salty.

Alas said after getting a workout in and lifting weights, he’s hungry and sometimes craves the nearby McDonald’s. He said it’s probably common that others also go to the close-by fast food places after leaving the gym. The food is addicting, he said. His friend, 14-year-old Raymond Perron, agreed.

“Fast food is nasty, but you kind of just have to eat it,” Perron said.

Putting many popular fast food places on the same street, including McDonald’s, Burger King, Wendy’s and Taco Bell, provides for some local competition.

“It’s a battlefield,” said 58-year-old Lynn resident David Swanson.

Swanson was eating at Burger King, the long-time nemesis of McDonald’s.

“I like their food, which is why I eat here,” he said. “I don’t like McDonald’s.”

Prices are good, he added, citing a common reason why people eat fast food. According to a 2014 “Ask Your Target Market,” survey, 67 percent of people asked said they eat fast food because it’s convenient, 32 percent said they eat it because it’s cheap, while 31 percent said they just like eating fast food.

Pedro Cuevas, 72, of Lynn, was also eating at Burger King, but said Wendy’s is his favorite fast food spot on the street. He likes the flavor and price there. If he had a strong enough craving, he could have simply walked from Burger King into the next lot to get to Wendy’s.


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

Fire Dept. revival rate 94 percent with Narcan

PHOTO BY NICOLE GOODHUE BOYD
Lt. Jon Godbout of Engine 3 Medic 1 holds up a Narcan shot on Sunday, at the Western Avenue firehouse. 

By GAYLA CAWLEY

LYNN — The Lynn Fire Department revived 94 percent of the patients their emergency personnel treated with Narcan, the lifesaving overdose drug, attributing the high figure to proper training and rapid response.

In 2016, the department documented 116 saved lives, out of 124 patients treated with Narcan. Five of those people died and in three cases, it’s unknown if the person survived. The numbers are not citywide figures, as they do not include Medic 1, Lynn Police or Atlantic Ambulance statistics. Heroin is the most common overdose.

But, firefighters from Engine 3, who treated 32 patients last year, and administered 64 doses of Narcan, said chances of survival are all about timing. Early reporting to emergency personnel helps.

“If we don’t find them in time, it’s not a miracle drug,” said Lt. Jon Godbout.

Stephen Harer, a firefighter and paramedic, said it’s important to find the overdose victim soon enough so they don’t go into cardiac arrest. There was an incident two weeks ago where one person went into cardiac arrest, and didn’t make it, Godbout added.

Narcan was added to fire trucks in the past two years, according to Lynn firefighters who spoke with The Item on Sunday. Before that, it was just on ambulances. A person can also go and buy their own Narcan at a pharmacy.

Firefighter Stephen Stille said there’s been an increase in people receiving Narcan before first responders arrive.

On a typical call, Godbout said fire personnel would be dispatched for an unresponsive overdose. The fire engine would arrive before the ambulance. He said the patient would be assessed, with a friend or family member usually on scene.

Most of the time, the person’s face is ashen-colored or blue, with pinpoint pupils. He said drug paraphernalia is not always visible so it’s not clear if the person shot up, took pills or did a mixture of things. If they’re breathing, nasal Narcan can be administered, Godbout said.

“They’ll go from death’s doorstep to walking and talking,” he said.

But once they’re revived, Godbout said patients aren’t required to go to the hospital. If they don’t seek medical attention, they can relapse back into an overdose when the Narcan wears off.

Stille said many people are overdosing because the drugs are stronger. He said patients have told him that they don’t understand why they overdosed, after taking the same amount of the drug they always do, not realizing that it’s laced with something else, such as fentanyl.

Firefighters said there are many repeat offenders after having been revived with Narcan. Stille said people can be discharged from the hospital after an overdose, and use again the same day. He said there can be multiple overdoses from the same person during one shift. Stille and Godbout said the overdoses that hit the hardest are the ones that happen around kids.

“Those are the ones that you seem to think about the most,” Godbout said. “It’s disturbing that there’s young children at home.”

Godbout and Stille said high revival rates are also attributed to good training and the luxury of having multiple fire stations across the city.

“That’s what it comes down to is timing,” Stille said. “Having the ladders and engines across the city to get to those people.”

EMT training is required for the fire department, Godbout said, along with a certain amount of continuing education every two years. He said that includes a continuing education class on the Narcan itself. Around the station, firefighters go over patient assessment, how to assemble Narcan and how to use it.

On calls, after a patient has been revived with Narcan, Godbout said they’ll sometimes still deny having used opioids. They might attribute it to sleeping or seizures, anything except using drugs. He said it’s important for people to tell emergency personnel what they overdosed on so the correct reversal drugs can be given.

The denial might be for fear of getting trouble with police, who are often on scene, Stille added.

Despite the positive lifesaving statistics, the Lynn Fire Department acknowledges that the heroin epidemic is not a problem that’s going away. It’s always been around, but is finally recognized by state officials, Godbout said.

“It ruins people’s lives,” Godbout said. “It ruins families. You can do it once and get hooked. All walks of life … it doesn’t matter where you came from, poor, rich. We see it in every part of the city.”


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

Marblehead logs another bizarre year

By GAYLA CAWLEY

As the new year rolls around, it is time for reflection on the events of 2016. For some, those events are chronicled in The Item’s police log.

We present some of our favorite entries from the past year.

To the police, thank you for all that you do.

Marblehead, Jan. 2  

An Elm Street caller stated that her neighbors have been harassing her by calling her names, screaming at her and believed they were “shining a laser into the window” at her.

Marblehead, Jan. 4

A Front Street caller reported a man threw pieces of dog poop at her while she was walking her dog.

Peabody, Jan. 13

A Beckett Street caller reported a burglary attempt. The caller stated a male party wearing a black facemask, Michael Jordan black sweater, black pants, black cotton gloves, black Air Jordan sneakers with maroon on the sole left her apartment when she came home. He stated he was looking for “Billy” and “he didn’t take anything.” The caller stated the man took off his shoes prior to entering her apartment.

Swampscott, Jan. 15

Police received a call for suspicious activity at the Walgreens on Paradise Road. The caller reported a man in a white van with roof racks on it asked her if she would like to participate with him and his wife in a sexual relationship. There was no further interaction.

Lynnfield, Jan. 16

A Chatham Street caller reported someone rang her doorbell and left behind two hamsters in a box on her doorstep.

Marblehead, Jan. 26

A Green Street caller reported a neighbor walking out with a one-gallon bucket and dumping it into the drain. She thought it might be human waste as the house may not be in the proper condition to live in. An officer reported it was water he was using to rinse his cement bucket.

Peabody, Feb. 3

A mailman reported a Bartholomew Street resident let him into his house because the wild, aggressive turkeys were chasing him and pecking at him. The mailman safely returned to his truck with the assistance of the Animal Control officer.

Saugus, Feb. 3

The manager of Applebee’s on Broadway reported there was a white male acting strangely in the parking lot and was climbing a tree.

Marblehead, Feb. 20

A Pleasant Street caller reported a suspicious man came to his door and asked if he could come in and charge his cell phone. The caller stated the man was pushy. An officer reported the man also came into the station to ask if he could charge his cell phone. The man stated he uses Swampscott as a home base. He stated “I’ve been to several other houses and no one else has called you guys.” When asked if he thought it was unusual for a stranger to approach a residence and ask to use a cell phone charger, he stated “nope.” He denied asking the caller if he could enter the residence. The man was advised to leave and stop his activity. He was told where the bus stop was. He said he knew where it was since he has been working in Marblehead for 10 years.

Peabody, Feb. 21

A Mill Street caller reported that someone broke into her apartment the previous week and urinated on the floor.

Marblehead, Feb. 26

A Front Street caller reported a man in a vest with a leather coat under it and a hat on that had been on the beach acting weird for 20 minutes. The man had allegedly urinated out in public. An officer reported the party was collecting rocks for the aquarium and was advised not to do so. There was no observation regarding the urination.

Marblehead, March 1

A Franklin Street resident was looking for advice. The woman reported she has a rape whistle and would like to know what the procedure is, should she need to use the whistle.

Marblehead, March 7

A Rose Avenue caller reported her husband was having a nightmare. The woman called 911 and when asked what the problem was, she asked her husband what was wrong and he told her he was having a dream. She related she thought he was dying because he was yelling.

Marblehead, March 7

A Buena Vista Road caller reported annoying phone calls. A woman reported receiving a bunch of anonymous phone calls with just heavy breathing on the other end. The woman called back and stated that she knows who the person was and everything is fine.

Marblehead, March 9

A report of two complaints in the vicinity of Smith Street. A caller stated she has two complaints regarding her experience on the tracks. The first she relayed was that she was out for a jog and she encountered not one, but two dogs that were not on leashes and that almost bit her. She stated the dogs were medium-sized and the owners were not too far behind. Her second complaint was that when she got to the crosswalk on Smith Street, she was almost struck by a woman driving and not paying attention. She stated that while it occurred, an “undercover cop car” in the post office parking lot “witnessed what happened” and did not do anything. She stated the car was a white SUV that had blue plates with the word “police” written on it. She stated that this all occurred sometime between 9 and 10 a.m. that morning.

Lynnfield, March 12

A Salem Street caller reported he had his land surveyed. His neighbors were unhappy with this and removed all the lines the surveyor put up.

Swampscott, March 13

A Bates Road caller reported an unknown person sleeping on the lawn just after 11:30 a.m.. The person was a salesman from Andersen Windows.

Saugus, March 20

A Kelly’s Roast Beef manager reported a man dressed as Jesus running in and out of traffic on Route 1 South at 11:53 p.m. An officer reported the man was a Malden Catholic fan celebrating a win and left.

Peabody, March 23

A report of three teens harassing wild turkeys at 6:15 p.m. at Welch School on Swampscott Avenue.

Swampscott, March 28

A Walker Road caller reported a huge raccoon was trying to get into his home through a vent on the roof at 6:06 a.m.

Swampscott, April 5

A Pine Hill Road caller said she tried to back out from her driveway and a turkey would not move for her to back out. Every time she tried to back out, the turkey moved to her rear wheel. She was afraid and did not want to run him over.

Saugus, April 16

A disturbance was reported at the IHOP on Broadway at 5:20 a.m. A caller reported another customer assaulted him and threw hot sauce on him before leaving in a BMW. An officer reported a small cup of hot sauce was thrown at the man and the suspect fled prior to his arrival.

Lynnfield, April 21

A caller reported people yelling at each other in the parking lot at Lynnfield Commons on North Broadway at 5:13 a.m. An officer reported a fox in the back parking lot squealing every few minutes.

Saugus, April 24

A report of 10 ducks trying to cross Route One Northbound near the Boston Market on Broadway at 7:53 a.m. Sunday. Police reported the call was unfounded.

Saugus, April 30

A road rage incident was reported at Winter and Central streets. A caller reported a woman threw an iced coffee through her window at her while they were at the rotary in Cliftondale Square.

Peabody, May 5

A Chase Circle caller reported two mallard ducks in a pool. The caller was advised to shoo them away or let them leave on their own.

Peabody, May 10

A suspicious motor vehicle was reported at 3:01 a.m. at Speedway on Lowell Street. A clerk reported there was a red vehicle sitting at the pump for about an hour. An officer checked and the woman thought it was a full service station.

Marblehead, May 27

A Stramski Way caller reported cocaine bags and condoms were left on her property. She also reported illegal drug activity on her street.

Peabody, May 31

A North Central Street caller reported three cows in the backyard shortly before 5 p.m. The caller later stated there were 10 to 12 cows now loose. Officers assisted the staff of Dunajski Dairy in bringing the cows back to their pen.

Peabody, May 31

A Veterans Memorial Drive caller reported a neighbor was chasing after her kids with a stick at 6:48 p.m.

Saugus, June 19

An employee at Panera Bread on Broadway reported that a customer complained about a drink and then proceeded to throw drinks at the employee. An officer was told by the manager that this was caused by a wrong drink order. The customer threw the drinks behind the counter and stormed off.

Marblehead, June 21

A Lincoln Park caller reported he was having a problem with his neighbor around 4:30 p.m. He was trying to grill and there was a neighbor who was moving his grill and spraying his wife with a hose.

Peabody, June 26

A report of a woman walking around outside without sneakers shortly after 10 p.m. at the U.S. Post Office on Wallis Street. An officer transported her to the sneakers’ location.

Marblehead, July 2

A woman reported that while her boat was on its private dock on Hunsley Lane, it appeared that someone had been on it and moved all kinds of things around on the boat. Nothing was taken, but just moved around. Her husband then got on the phone to say that he had read something about “The Arranger,” a person who was going into people’s homes on the neck and moving things around. He also said that his daughter had seen someone standing on their boat but didn’t call police at the time it happened.

Marblehead, July 2

A report of a drone hovering over the porch at 12:30 p.m. on Goodwins Court. A frantic woman called reporting a drone was hovering over her deck for two minutes. She said “a crime could happen” and that it was “an invasion of privacy.” She didn’t want a police response or her name in the paper. She also didn’t want her father to know about the drone as it was her parents’ property.

Saugus, July 4

A Clifton Street caller reported he believed his neighbor shot out the window to his vehicle with a BB gun. An officer reported two BB shots to the window, but was unable to speak with the neighbor.

Marblehead, July 6

A West Shore Drive woman called shortly after 2 p.m. to say that she couldn’t find her husband. She said she was watching television and didn’t have a concept for how long she hadn’t seen him for. Her husband was located in the garage cleaning his car.

Peabody, July 10

A caller reported there was a suspicious motor vehicle in the area of the post office on Essex Center Drive shortly before 11 p.m. An officer spoke with the people in the vehicle, who were driving around the parking lot catching Pokemon Go characters.

Marblehead, Aug. 5

A caller reported kite surfers came toward her “aggressively” three or four times while she was swimming at the beach on Ocean Avenue at 6:43 p.m. She said she felt threatened.

Peabody, Aug. 8

A Martinack Avenue man reported he disposed of a dead bat in his house after coming home from vacation. He stated that his friend, and their cat, were house sitting at the time and the cat may have killed the bat.

Marblehead, Aug. 10

A report of a woman throwing a bucket of water at another female at 11:21 a.m. Pleasant Street. The woman denied throwing water at the caller. The woman called back to say that when the other female threw the dog water at her, it caused her eyes to turn all red. She said she spent eight hours at the doctor yesterday for her eyes and that she is going blind in her left eye. She declined medical attention.

Marblehead, Aug. 19

A Pleasant Street caller reported she was being evicted and said the son of the dog groomer tells her “FU” every time he sees her so she does not go out much. She stated he comes every day and scratches her car. She called complaining that in the paper, it was reported as a glass of water that was thrown at her. She said it was a whole bucket and she was covered from head to toe. She said it was not fair to say that in the paper and wants it changed. She was told by police that they do not write the newspaper. She said her eyes were still bothering her, but she had still not gone for any medical attention, as she was having her class reunion.

Marblehead, Aug. 20

A report of pokemon causing a disturbance at 3:30 p.m. on Lighthouse Lane. A caller reported his wife is a light sleeper and nightly, there are huge groups of people playing pokemon at the lighthouse. He requested that the gates get locked nightly. He said there is no lock on the chain and people just loosen the chain and go into the park.

Peabody, Aug. 22

A caller reported a vagrant bathing in the sink at Sunshine Laundry on Foster Street shortly before 10:30 a.m. He was described as a very dirty man who comes to the store frequently to bathe in the sink.

Marblehead, Aug. 27

A report of terrible music at 6:34 p.m. on Cloutmans Lane. A caller reported he was “listening to the worst music of his entire life” coming from across the ocean. He would like it noted and understood that nothing could be done.

Marblehead, Aug. 28

A Elm Street caller reported she has photographs of people who are shining laser beams at her house. She stated it’s an ongoing issue and has been speaking to her attorney about it.

Saugus, Sept. 3

A report of an aircraft accident at 11:36 a.m. on Salem Turnpike. A caller reported witnessing a small plane crash into the marsh on 107 Southbound. The owner retrieved the model plane from the marsh area. An officer reported a large model, unmanned airplane that crashed into the marsh.

Swampscott, Sept. 7

A Kings Beach Terrace homeowner reported someone was trying to break into his house shortly before 11 p.m. and he beat them up.

Marblehead, Sept. 9

A caller reported two drunks fighting outside the riptide on Pleasant Street shortly before 11:30 p.m. and heading toward the monument. One had a British accent and the other was in a suit.

Marblehead, Sept. 18

An Elm Street caller told police she finally got photos of the people responsible for shooting the light ray guns at her. She wanted to show the pictures to an officer after she got them developed.

Lynnfield, Sept. 18

A report of a german shepherd roaming the halls of a building at 2:39 p.m. at Lynnfield Commons at 375 North Broadway. The owner was located.

Marblehead, Sept. 26

A Maverick Street caller reported that kids were outside playing shortly after 4:30 p.m. and they were “ruining his right to quiet enjoyment.” He was told that police would not tell kids at that hour not to play outside because it’s not unreasonable for them to be out at that time.

Marblehead, Oct. 4

A Stonybrook Road caller reported that overnight, someone smeared a hamburger all over his son’s truck. The rear window and driver’s side were covered in condiments. The buns were on the roof and the windshield.

Marblehead, Oct. 18

An Elm Street woman sent police photos showing evidence of the neighbors shining lasers into her apartment. Officers investigated and found that it was a metallic, purple pinwheel inside of the apartment, which shines a purple beam when the sun hits it. An officer took photos and spun the pinwheel around so the sun no longer hits it. Police also took photos of the outside of the house, which show that the window is completely obstructed by bushes, as is the window of the house she alleges is shining the laser at her house.

Saugus, Oct. 18

A caller who wished to remain anonymous stated he went to the Red Roof Inn on Broadway to get a massage around 10 p.m. and when he got to the room, the woman was offering a different service.

Marblehead, Oct. 24

An Elm Street woman stated that she wanted to call and vent that she believes that all of the officers who have spoken to her about the “lasers that are being shot into her house” are not taking her seriously. She stated that it is happening again and that she will be contacting her lawyer about the issue. A man called and said he encountered the woman on the street and approached her to have a conversation about her screaming at 4:30 a.m. He reported that she told him that she is trying to get the neighbors to stop “shooting proton laser beams into the house” and that she knows “the lasers are from the Israelis.”

Peabody, Oct. 30

A Tara Road caller reported her neighbor was using a leaf blower to maliciously blow leaves onto her property.

Marblehead, Nov. 1

A person came into the police station with a photo of a picture of a man’s face that was taped to a tree on Tioga Way. There were no words on it.

Marblehead, Nov. 9

A Hawthorn Road caller reported a worker was delivering oil and had his dog with him shortly before 10:30 a.m. The caller stated that the dog got out of the oil truck and urinated on his lawn. The man asked the delivery man not to let his dog do that again. He replied “welcome to Marblehead,” upsetting the caller.

Marblehead, Nov. 29

A caller reported someone on Intervale Road had the American flag turned upside down. He felt it was because they were protesting the election results, but added that it is a distress signal and felt someone should go and check on them. An officer reported the house was actually on Brimblecomb Avenue, but no one was home.

Marblehead, Dec. 9

A Lincoln Park resident complained that a neighbor’s bushes were blocking and obstructing her driveway. An officer reported the woman doesn’t like the bushes and was told there was no police issue.

Marblehead, Dec. 27

A caller reported strange activity at Abbot Street and Abbot Court shortly before 2 p.m., stating that a car pulled up and people were pointing at houses. They then pulled farther up the street, got out and started going door to door. Police reported they were Jehovah’s witnesses.


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

Marblehead is ready for 2017

By GAYLA CAWLEY

MARBLEHEAD — Significant renovations to the Marblehead Community Center and the first floor of the Abbot Public Library were two of the year’s highlights and accomplishments cited by Marblehead town officials.

Town Administrator John McGinn said the community center project was undertaken partly for a more equitable distribution of space between the Council on Aging and the Recreation and Parks Commission, since both have offices there.

The $85,000 renovation, started in the spring and completed in November, included the installation of air conditioning in meeting rooms and improved meeting space. McGinn said a space study was completed to see how the building could be better used.

McGinn said the library’s renovated children’s room and large meeting room on the first floor was a  $220,000 project completed with trust fund money donated to the library. The children’s room received new flooring and the town is also looking at further repairs for the library.

“There’s sort of a much more inviting look to the place than there was before,” he said.

McGinn said he was also happy with the four historic documents that were unveiled last spring, which dated to revolutionary times. The documents are on display in the selectmen’s room at Abbot Hall.

Documents included a letter from George Washington to the inhabitants of the town of Marblehead in 1789, Elbridge Gerry’s letter to the selectmen accepting an appointment to the Massachusetts Provincial Congress in 1774, Paul Revere’s letter to Jonathan Glover and the selectmen attempting to procure surplus cannon from the town, written in 1787, and a resolution of the Massachusetts General Court Senate and House relative to a Marblehead petition, signed by John Hancock and Samuel Adams, written in 1784.

Another highlight, McGinn said, was the purchase of a fire pumper truck. In May, the town approved a $620,000 fire truck, which he said should be delivered next spring.

He said the town also had its AAA bond rating from Standard and Poor’s reaffirmed last August for the eighth consecutive year, which allows Marblehead to borrow at lower interest rates. Marblehead was one of just 46 of the 351 communities across Massachusetts to achieve the rating, the highest possible from Standard and Poor’s, a crediting agency.

McGinn said another highlight was progress on the renovation of the Elbridge Gerry School. Town Meeting members approved funding a $750,000 feasibility study last May, which allows the Gerry School Building Committee to follow the process required by the Massachusetts School Building Authority. Voters approved the ballot initiative a month later. The state will pay about $243,525 for the study, with taxpayers responsible for $506,475.

The K-1 school has never been improved since it was built in 1906. The project would have to be approved at Town Meeting in 2018. Construction options would be considered after the study’s completion, which could take up to two years.

McGinn said the town is looking at options that would involve combining the school with Coffin School, or combining Gerry, Coffin and Bell School.

Landfill capping, an ongoing project for several years, wrapped up in November. The landfill closure began in 2014 and accounts for more than $17 million of the $23 million allocated for the Marblehead transfer station upgrade.

Marblehead entered into a consent decree with the state Department of Environmental Protection to cap and close the landfill in the early 2000s. Before the capping, the town hadn’t landfilled material since 1975.

The town’s existing landfill was constructed in the 1930s and the incinerator was built in 1950. During those years, there was open pit burning, with material, including products containing lead and heavy metals, brought on site, burned and placed in the landfill.

The Woodfin Terrace transfer station is also slated for demolition. Most of the 1950 building was razed last spring, but the trash compactor is still in place. The bidding process for a new transfer station isn’t expected to begin until next spring.

After more than a decade, William Pattison Landing, the town’s newest pier opened. The $370,000 project at Stramski Way and West Shore Drive was previously referred to as Stramski Pier, for the family that owned the surrounding park before the town bought it.

The pier, which provides access to Salem Harbor from West Shore Drive, was named after William Pattison, a former member of the Harbors and Waters Board. Pattison was passionate about the project. He died in 2010 and never saw its completion.

To complete the project, a permit was required from the U.S. Army Corp. of Engineers, which couldn’t be issued until the completion of a $12.5 million sewer pipe replacement, which connects the Stramski area underneath the harbor to South Essex Sewerage District’s treatment facilities in Salem.

The controversial Marblehead Mariner project, which would have been the town’s first assisted living facility, was denied by the Zoning Board of Appeals last May. The ZBA rejected a special permit for the facility, which was the final approval needed for the developers, Coastal Streets and Harbor Street Development.

Board members said the application was rejected because the design was too large and incompatible with the neighborhood. The facility would have been built on Pleasant Street, and would have included 87 apartments on a 4.5-acre site. It would have featured parks, walking paths, seating areas, patios and gardens.

Phil Helmes, one of the developers, serves as chairman on the town’s Planning Board, which granted site plan review approval. The developers filed an appeal of the ZBA decision with the Massachusetts Land Court on June 16.

“That’s really out of the town’s hands at this point,” said McGinn.

Phase 2 of a three part drainage project will continue this spring with culvert work on Pleasant and School streets. Proposed work includes upgrading stone culverts that are more than 100 years old, replacing it with 48-inch PVC pipe.

The town was successful with securing more than $1 million in Federal Emergency Management Agency funds in 2015 to move forward on the project. The first phase was completed three years ago on portions of Atlantic Avenue, Essex and Spring streets.

“Under certain weather conditions, we would experience flooding in those areas and a lot of water that would go into those buildings,” McGinn said. “The project was originally designed to be an almost $5 million project.”

Marblehead had to quickly hire a new trash hauler, JRM Hauling, after their former collector, Hiltz Waste Disposal stopped services with about a day’s notice. Marblehead entered into a 10-year contract with JRM, and is paying $795,000 for the first year, which includes the cost of all recycling disposal. McGinn said despite the unexpected termination of their contract with Hiltz, the town didn’t miss a day of trash service with its transition to JRM. Hiltz later declared bankruptcy.


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

 

Freezin’ for a Reason in Nahant

ITEM PHOTO BY OWEN O’ROURKE
Matt Manning took to Short Beach in Nahant a week early to promote the New Year’s Day plunge.

By GAYLA CAWLEY

NAHANT — The name says it all, as people voluntarily plunging themselves into chilly water at Short Beach on New Year’s Day will be “Freezin’ for a Reason.”

At noon on Sunday, Jan. 1, more than 200 people are expected to dash into the Atlantic Ocean at Short Beach, behind the Nahant Coast Guard Station/Life-Saving Station.

“I just think it’s on a lot of people’s bucket lists,” said George Sonia, an organizer. “I know it sounds crazy but we have a lot of fun.”

Sonia said the event started 10 years ago merely as a way to fulfill an item on his own bucket list. Before it became a fundraiser three years ago, taking on the “Freezin’ for a Reason” name, people simply plunged into the ocean to to have fun.


The Lynn event is organized by George and Stephanie Sonia, and Patricia, Mario and Nicholas Capano. Past charitable efforts have included raising funds for a handicap golf cart for Gannon Golf Course and a splash pad for Greater Lynn Special Needs Camp. The event has raised more than $20,000 in its first two years as a fundraiser.

This year, funds will be donated to “Homes for Our Troops,” which builds mortgage-free, specially adapted homes nationwide for severely injured veterans post 9/11, to enable them to rebuild their lives.

“They sacrifice so much for us that we thought we could give back to them,” Sonia said. “Everybody’s in the giving spirit and we wanted to give back to them.”

Sonia said there’s not much preparation someone can do for the polar plunge. He advises wearing water shoes, as the event is usually held during low tide and there’s quite a bit of running involved.

State Rep. Brendan Crighton (D-Lynn) said he’ll also be taking the plunge. He got involved because he’s a friend of the Sonia family, but also thinks it is a good community event. He said his strategy is to make sure he’s fully dunked into the water and is hoping the day’s temperatures don’t follow the recent weather pattern.

“The amount of people that show up now for the cause is awesome,” Crighton said. “It’s people from all over Lynn, all different backgrounds. It’s fun.”

There is a $25 entrance fee and participants will received a long sleeved T-shirt. Registration is at 11:30 a.m. After the plunge, participants can make their way to Rolly’s Tavern on the Square in Lynn. Twenty percent of the restaurant’s proceeds will benefit the fundraiser. Raffle tickets, gift baskets, T-shirts and other items will be sold.

For more information, visit http://www.myhfotusa.org/freezinforareason.


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

Swampscott in search of $1.6m eraser for schools

By GAYLA CAWLEY

SWAMPSCOTT — School officials are scrambling to come up with ways to erase a $1.6 million budget deficit.

Swampscott School Business Administrator Evan Katz said the projected FY18 school budget exceeds available revenue by $1.6 million. He said school officials have been notified that the town’s allocation increase for the school budget is roughly $750,000. Last year, the town allocated an additional $1.1 million to the schools.

Katz said the $750,000 town increase won’t even cover the projected $960,000 in salary increases for school employees and teachers. The school district is in the midst of teacher contract negotiations, and the figure is based on an anticipated 1.5 percent raise for educators.

“The school committee has done a really good job of negotiating favorable contracts with staff,” Katz said. “The town needs to understand that $750,000 doesn’t even cover our favorable contract settlements.”

Another $700,000 is needed to fully fund the FY17 budget, which was underfunded in areas such as facilities maintenance and special education tuition and transportation. He said those areas that were underfunded last year need to be planned for in the upcoming budget.

The third major area driving the deficit is the projected additional $700,000 needed for anticipated budget increases such as special education and facilities.

Katz, Superintendent Pamela Angelakis and the School Committee are faced with cuts in the budget or raising fees to reduce expenses, if they can’t count on more town funds. Katz said a staff vacancy might not be filled when an employee leaves, and staff and programming cuts are likely with the size of the budget gap.

“We want to maintain the educational quality we have,” he said. “We don’t want to cut positions. We don’t want to do anything that’s going to affect the quality of classroom instruction. At the same time, we want to settle the teachers’ contracts.”

Angelakis said cuts and other options to reduce expenses is not the direction she wants to see the district moving forward, but said the reality is in the numbers.

The school leadership team will present some options to reduce expenses to the school committee at their scheduled Jan. 11 meeting.

“We’re sort of in a crunch and feeling it hard and sort of wanting the town to know what we’re feeling,” said Amy O’Connor, school committee vice-chair.


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

Local teens swim with Shark (Tank)

COURTESY PHOTO
From left, Christopher Chan, Taima Walker, Emy Diaz, Nhan Nguyen, Wanntha Sim Chanhdymany, Lynn Y director of grants and volunteerism and Chantha Luk, Lynn Y music director, at Lynn YMCA.

By GAYLA CAWLEY

LYNN — Fresh off of pitching their business ideas and being awarded seed funding in a Shark Tank-style format, four teams of Lynn and Peabody teens are working to implement their community ventures.

The four teams from Lynn YMCA and Salem-based Camp Fire North Shore programs, were eligible to earn up to $1,000 for their projects. Two teams earned the full funding and two received $750, with an opportunity to pitch again in January for the remaining $250.

The team from Camp Fire North Shore, through the Teens in Action program, earned $1,000 for their business venture, 5K Throwaway. Zachary Robinson and Sydney Spiess, of Lynn, and Peabody brothers, Evan and Nuno Bazarian, talked about their project on Sunday.

Robinson, 16, said the funding will go toward organizing another Earth Day race at Lynn Beach. He said the race works by first cleaning up visible trash in the parking lot area, and then participants are given a trash bag to pick up garbage along the route while running. Checkpoints are set up to deposit waste along the race.

“I think we felt we were going to get the full funding,” said Robinson. “We were pretty well-prepared.”

To go beyond the race, the group plans to try to set up trash and recycling receptacles at Lynn Beach, and throughout downtown Lynn. Nuno Bazarian said the poll conducted by MassDevelopment’s Transformative Development Initiative (TDI) showed that downtown Lynn needs more receptacles. To further their goals, the team is partnering with those who conducted the poll and Friends of Lynn Beach and Save the Harbor/Save the Bay.

Nuno Bazarian, 16, said the idea came about a year ago from one of their friends who runs track. He told the group that when he runs through Lynn Woods, he sees a lot of trash along the way.

“That definitely is an issue, not only Lynn Woods suffers from that,” he said. “How can we make something interesting out of cleaning up trash?”

The group also received $1,000 seed funding last year and organized a race in Lynn Woods on Earth Day last spring.

Emy Diaz, 16, Taima Walker, 16, and Christopher Chan, 15,  from Lynn, were team leaders for their respective teams from the Lynn YMCA.

Diaz and her team from the Music Studio Clubhouse of the YMCA pitched an idea for “Project Project” to develop a podcast so teen voices could be heard. The podcast would be shared on social media to gain views. Her team won $1,000.

“This experience was stressful, but at the end of the day, it was liberating and I feel proud,” she said.

Chan, of the Kaya program, said his team’s project was “We are Hear,” to provide middle and high school students an opportunity to talk about things they normally wouldn’t.

A support system would be set up in the YMCA, he said, for kids who might be on the edge of committing suicide. For teens who need more assistance than the program can provide, contacts would be given to them for therapists. The team won $750 and Chan said they plan to pitch for the remaining $250.

Walker and her group from the Lynn Youth Council presented “Leveled Streets,” which would install drug awareness in middle schools through sports games and talent shows.  

“All we wanted to do was provide a different channel of information for middle schoolers to ensure another generation is aware of drugs,” Walker said. “This is our way of pitching in against the opioid epidemic by teaching the young.”

She said the idea came to her group because they realized lots of middle schools don’t realize how harmful marijuana use can be. Providing awareness, Walker said, makes sure youth have an equal opportunity to succeed, and a level playing field. Her group also won $750, but plans to pitch again.

“It was definitely a great experience to venture into the world of social entrepreneurship,” Walker said.

The competition began with 30 teams of youths from Lynn, Salem and Boston as part of United Way’s Youth Venture “Pitch Day” at Simmons College.

United Way’s Youth Venture Initiative invests in youth teams, which allows them to develop, launch, manage and sustain community-benefiting projects, and provides them with ongoing training, mentoring and financial support.


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

’Tisn’t the season to be sad

By GAYLA CAWLEY

One mother is trying to ensure that Christmas doesn’t fall on the backburner as she and her husband struggle to provide for their children’s basic needs.

“We are sad to say that this Christmas, we will not be able to afford presents they deserve,” she wrote in a letter to Item Santa. “My oldest son especially, because he is in school this year and doing such a great job, he deserves to have a good Christmas like every child does. Times are very hard right now between providing food, clothing and even heat this time of year, as it is getting cold. We really hope that we could afford a good Christmas for them this year but we can’t.”

She’s asking our readers to make the holiday happy for her children by making sure that they have presents to open on Christmas morning.

DONATE: Item Santa coupon

Now in its 50th year, the Item Santa fund endeavors to make Christmas a little brighter for those among us who are less fortunate. If you want to make a direct donation to Item Santa, clip the coupon in The Item and mail it, along with your check, to The Item Salvation Army Santa, P.O. Box 5, Lynn, MA 01903. You can also use the coupon attached to the itemlive.com version of this story as well.

All donations are listed in Item print editions through the month of December and into 2017, along with a brief message from each donor, if desired.

This year, there are  several other ways to donate. To contribute online, go to www.itemsanta.org, where you can make a donation via credit card.

Those interested in signing up to collect at Santa Island or any business willing to sell stockings should contact David Solimine Sr. or Joel Solimine at 781-595-1492.


NOTE: The application period for aid from Item Santa has closed and The Item does not process applicants. All questions about the program and distribution of gifts should be directed to Salvation Army at 781-598-0673.

School incident claims three jobs in Lynnfield

By GAYLA CAWLEY

LYNNFIELD — Jennifer DiBiase, the principal of Summer Street Elementary School, has resigned and two people who were employed with the town’s METCO program are no longer employed there following an incident on a school bus, according to Lynnfield School Superintendent Jane Tremblay.

Tremblay confirmed that the principal of Summer Street Elementary School has resigned in order to pursue another career opportunity. The school’s website lists DiBiase as the principal.

“I have thanked her for her service and wished her well in her new endeavor,” the superintendent said in an email.

Regarding an incident between two students on a school bus, Tremblay said federal and state confidentiality laws prohibit her from providing details.

“The incident has been addressed in accordance with school district policies,” she wrote.

Andrea Grossman, a spokeswoman for the state Department of Children and Families (DCF), said in an email that DCF has received a report regarding the incident and is investigating.

Tremblay declined to identify the two Metropolitan Council for Educational Opportunity (METCO) employees who are no longer employed with the program.

The (METCO) program provides minority students from Boston an opportunity to attend public schools in participating suburban school districts.

Lynnfield Police Chief David Breen could not be reached for comment.


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

Zoning issues brewing on Swampscott waterfront

COURTESY PHOTO
St. Paul’s Foundation’s Fr. Andrew Bushell has a vision for the Marian Court property.

By GAYLA CAWLEY

SWAMPSCOTT — Tension is brewing between town officials and Fr. Andrew Bushell over the planned business portion of his intended monastic reuse of the former Marian Court College, also known as White Court.

Bushell, a Marblehead native and executive chairman of St. Paul’s Foundation, a monastic institution of the monks of Mount Athos in Greece, a church, not a nonprofit, intends to turn Marian Court into a Orthodox Christian monastery. He has a purchase agreement in place with the Sisters of Mercy, the current owners of the property at 35 Littles Point Road. They closed the college in June 2015 because of financial difficulties, but Bushell has not closed on the property.

Bushell said his decision to complete the purchase of the Marian Court property hinges on being able to build a small monastic brewery and cider house on the site, inside what is now the Mercy Center. Plans also include establishing a warehouse in Lynn or Revere, which would be used for storage and larger deliveries.

“I would like to clarify that the only way we’re going to proceed with the purchase of the property is with a brewery,” Bushell said at a recent Board of Selectmen meeting. “That’s not any doubt in our mind … It’s our understanding that we do this by right. It’s our understanding that any religious organization has the right to support itself.”

Town officials argue that zoning bylaws do not allow for a brewery in the residential district where the former college is located. The only uses allowed in that district without having to obtain a special permit are a single-family dwelling, a religious use, educational use, child care facility, agricultural use or facilities for the sale and production of dairy products from June to September, according to Peter Kane, director of community development.

Kane said a brewery is not identified as an allowed use in Swampscott, and according to the town’s zoning bylaws, if a use is not specified, then it’s not allowed. He said Bushell could argue that the brewery is for a religious use, but he would still have to go through the town’s building inspector. Depending on the building inspector’s determination, whether the brewery falls under a religious exemption or doesn’t, Bushell or the town has the right to appeal that decision, Kane said.

“Because it’s a residential district, I don’t believe that manufacturing of goods is allowed on the property,” Kane said.

Selectmen Peter Spellios and Donald Hause agreed. Hause said he doesn’t think the brewery would follow the Dover Amendment exemption, the law that exempts agricultural, religious and educational corporations from certain zoning restrictions.

“I don’t believe it’s a use that’s appropriate for the property,” Hause said.

Spellios said it was his belief that a brewery should not be in that neighborhood.

Bushell argued that the Dover Amendment would apply to the brewery. He said it’s traditional for monks to support themselves by the work of their hands. Work and prayer is their motto, he added. In Marblehead, for instance, he supports a small monastic house through the Marblehead Salt Company, which was founded when he returned to the town five years ago.

The salt company provides for the group’s basic needs and allows them to donate to the community and the larger world, he said in a previous interview. The funds are sufficient for a small house, he previously added, but the White Court property is larger and more expensive to maintain, with money also needed to support the group’s mission to help its Middle Eastern brothers.

“It’s very traditional for monastics to brew beer,” Bushell said. “We’ve been making beer for well over 1,000 years. It’s typically how we support many of our communities and also allows us to provide for charitable works.”

Bushell said he thought that a small brewery in the monastic tradition would be most suitable to repair the property, restoring it to the jewel it once was and provide for the group’s charitable works around the world.

He plans for no more than 18 full-time residents at White Court should the sale be completed. There are also plans to repurpose a room for a small chapel.


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

4-car crash results in minor injuries

COURTESY PHOTO
Police say that two people were cited after a four-car crash sent at least one person to the hospital around 5:30 p.m. Wednesday.

By GAYLA CAWLEY

LYNN — A four-car accident on Wednesday resulted in minor injuries.

Lynn Police, Lynn Fire and Atlantic Ambulance personnel responded to the intersection of Washington and Boston streets around 5:30 p.m. on a report of an accident involving multiple cars, Lynn Police Lt. Dave Brown said in an email.

No one was seriously injured, but at least one person was taken to the hospital. Two people were cited, Brown said.

“Citations were issued to those who were considered to be at fault,” he said. “Traffic was delayed for a period of time, while arrangements were made to clear the roadway.”

Lynnway robbery ends in fatal shooting


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

2 arrested for heroin trafficking, other charges

By GAYLA CAWLEY

LYNN A motor vehicle stop led to two arrests for heroin trafficking Monday night.

Jeisson Sanchez, 24, and Adrian Santana, 24, both from Lynn, were charged with heroin trafficking, Class B drug possession with intent to distribute, conspiracy to violate the drug law and violation of the city knife ordinance. Santana also was charged with motor vehicle violations.

ALSO: Lynn couple faces gambling, gun charges

Police pulled Santana over after following him around 7:40 p.m. after the officer noticed the car’s license plate light was out. When the car crossed the double lines, before making its way back into the proper lane, he pulled it over, Lynn Police Lt. Rick Donnelly said.

The officer walked up the passenger side of the vehicle, where Sanchez was sitting, and saw a small plastic bag on the floor, containing several twists of suspected narcotics. He called for backup, and when more police arrived, Sanchez and the driver, Santana, were asked to get out of the vehicle, Donnelly said.

Police found several other bags believed to be heroin in the car. In total, 28.9 grams of heroin was seized, with a street value of about $2,900. Also seized from the two men was $1,844 in cash, cell phones and two knives, Donnelly said.


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

Swampscott talks dollars for trash and flooding

By Gayla Cawley

SWAMPSCOTT — There wasn’t much dissention at the special Town Meeting on Monday as voters approved everything presented to them, including funds needed for trash, flooding and pollution.

Town Meeting members approved allocating an additional $408,587 for trash and recyclable collections. Officials said the funds would make up the difference from the larger contract the town negotiated with their new trash hauler, Republic Services, after their former collector, Hiltz Waste Disposal, abruptly ended garbage collection service on Aug. 31. Republic Services was hired a day later. Hiltz has declared bankruptcy.

Ken Norton, a Town Meeting member, wanted to know what happened with the contract and if the town was bound to their new company.

Town Accountant David Castellarin, who also serves as assistant town administrator, said three companies submitted bids after Hiltz cut services, and Republic Services was the lowest bidder over a five-year period. He said the additional funds ultimately approved were for the emergency services Swampscott needed from its new hauler, so that the town didn’t go without trash and recyclable collection for two to three weeks during the transition period.

An article regarding funds needed to clean up sewage discharging into the ocean at King’s Beach from Stacey Brook at the Lynn-Swampscott line prompted some discussion, but was ultimately passed.

Town officials asked voters to allocate $2 million for the purpose of funding design and construction costs to eliminate non-stormwater pollutants from entering the town’s drainage system. Two separate outfalls have Lynn and Swampscott discharging right next to each other. Sewage is getting into the drainage pipe and going into the ocean.

The funds are needed to keep the town in compliance with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) consent decree, that requires the town to eliminate the pollutants from entering the town’s drainage system.

Interim Town Administrator and Department of Public Works Director Gino Cresta said last week that the appropriation would be for the the first two parts of Phase 1 of the Stacey Brook project, which includes four phases of work, that when adjusted for inflation will cost $10.7 million over eight years. Work in the first two parts of Phase 1 will include relining sewer mains and replacing sewer infrastructure that is more than 100 years old. Construction is expected to begin by next spring, after a contractor is procured this winter.

Two Town Meeting members wondered how much of the discharge problem belongs to Lynn. Cresta said at the present time, the EPA is not concerned with the discharge coming out of the Lynn outfall.

“They’re (EPA) saying they want us to fix our problem and then they’ll deal with Lynn,” Cresta said.

Also ultimately passed and appropriated was $128,750 for the purpose of redesigning beach entrances to alleviate flooding. The town was awarded a $103,000 reimbursement grant from Coastal Zone Management, which requires a 25 percent matching contribution from Swampscott, or $25,750. The total cost needed to be approved at Town Meeting and Coastal Zone Management set a deadline for design completion by the end of next June.

The Finance Committee and Capital Improvements Committee did not recommend the article. The finance committee recommended to Town Meeting that it be indefinitely postponed.

Director of Community Development Peter Kane and Peter Spellios, a member of the Board of Selectmen, advocated for the funds being approved before voters on Monday.

Kane said the funds are for phase 2 of a project. Phase 1 studied where flooding would most impact the town’s infrastructure and at ways to help mitigate storm surge and climate change. One of the ways, he said, was looking at the beach access ways. He said the funds allocated for the Phase 2 design would prepare the town for the construction phase.

Kane said storm surge and climate change has become progressively worse and if the town doesn’t prepare itself, the bill would be much higher in the future. Turning the coastal grant down if funds weren’t approved, he said, would also make it difficult to apply for it again in the future.

Spellios amended the ultimately approved article’s language to make the approved funds contingent upon town’s receipt of the $103,000 reimbursement grant.

Tara Gallagher, a Town Meeting member, spoke in favor of allocating the funds.

“I just feel that we have a responsibility as a coastal community to prepare,” she said.


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

Marblehead high on zen

PHOTO BY PAULA MULLER
Violaine Gueritault leads students Camille Comstock, center, and Delainey Bostley in meditation in the Zen Room at Marblehead High School.

By GAYLA CAWLEY

MARBLEHEAD — Students are offered a unique chance to relax and relieve anxiety at Marblehead High School.

The meditation and mindfulness program was founded two years ago at the high school by Violaine Gueritault, a French and Latin teacher. Gueritault is also a psychologist and clinician, whose Ph.D. was on stress management.

“It’s always been something very important to me and I was just really getting to the point where I thought the earlier we instill people with good and effective stress management techniques and effective strategies, the more chances we have to avoid all problems that can last for a lifetime,” Gueritault said.

ALSO: 16-year-old Lynn student headed to Carnegie Hall

The program has been a hit with students. They get the chance to meditate for two to five minutes before some of their classes, participate in the Zen Club, which includes yoga, and after school and during study halls they can stop by the Zen Room, which was added last year off the library. There, with a teacher, they can practice guided mindfulness, which is a moment by moment awareness of our thoughts, emotions, sensation and surrounding environment, and breathing exercises.

Emma DaRocha, 15, a sophomore, said she participates in the club and does a few minutes of meditation before her math class.

“It just relaxes me before class and math can be hard, but doing the meditation, it calms everyone down,” she said.

Mercedez Pelletier, 15, a sophomore, said she decided to give meditation a try because she heard it helps with relaxation. She practices it in the morning sometimes and before every math class.

“It lets my mind not be so flustered with everything that’s going on in high school,” she said.

Keshaun Agnew, 15, a sophomore, said meditation helps him wake up and get his mind ready for school. He added that it clears his mind and relaxes him.

“I feel like it’s helping my grades this year,” he said.

Meghan Dutton, a special education teacher, who also co-teaches geometry, said her students practice mindfulness during the first two to four minutes of every class. She said there’s about six other teachers, including Gueritault, who start their classes similarly.

Dutton, a certified yoga instructor who is also certified with Mindful Schools, a California-based organization that trains educators in mindfulness, also has Zen Room duty, where she’ll help students practice mindful breathing, walking and movement, yoga and guided meditations.

She said she wants to shorten her sessions in the room to 20 minutes to attract more students.

Dutton said research shows that mindfulness practices help to build emotional regulation, improve memory, attention and focus and build clarity. She said test scores may increase.

“Mindful practice allows anyone — teens, adults — an opportunity to practice these tools when they’re in a state of ease so when anxiety, nervousness may arise, because mindfulness doesn’t mean that there won’t be stress … but it does mean that now we have some tools to manage.”

Gueritault said when the program started, she offered two morning sessions of meditation a week, from 7:15-7:45 a.m.

She was convinced that no students would show up for weeks, and that they would make fun of her for the idea, but was surprised to find that from the first day, teenagers came. She started integrating meditation, mindfulness and awareness classes.

Later that year, she began offering guided meditation to any student who had a study hall throughout the school day in the conference room of the library. The program attracted up to 50 students daily.

Students began to talk to their teachers, who became interested, and a stress management mindfulness workshop for teachers was added in the spring of that year.

She holds additional mindfulness workshops, which are open to any educators from the school district, who can then bring the techniques they learned back to their own classrooms.

Gueritault said students have told her that meditation instantly calms them down. She said they reported feeling rested in the sense of feeling grounded, centered and calm. She’s been told that they feel focused and energetic.

During high school, she said students have nonstop schedules, waking up early, and after making it through the school day, most of them have sports, followed by hours of homework after getting home at night. They deal with social and academic pressures and are often exhausted and sleep deprived.

“It (meditation and mindfulness) allows them to recharge their batteries, to refocus, to regroup, to ground themselves,” Gueritault said. “That helps them basically get through the day and continue to just like perform … in the way that they’re not going to completely collapse in complete exhaustion.”


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

Cigarettes spark Saugus blaze

ITEM FILE PHOTO
Firefighters work to extinguish a 3-alarm fire at 57 Harrison Ave. in Saugus on Friday. 

By GAYLA CAWLEY

SAUGUS — A three-alarm fire at 57 Harrison Ave. on Friday night was caused by careless disposal of cigarettes in a trash receptacle, according to the Saugus Fire Department.

Deputy Fire Chief Don Shea said the fire started on the outside of the house and there were no injuries.

The two residents were home at the time and neighbors noticed the blaze. Two pets were also there, and a cat had to be rescued by firefighters, he added.

MORE PHOTOS: Firefighters battle three-alarm fire in Saugus

Shea said there was substantial damage to the house, but wasn’t sure what the determination was, regarding whether it could be salvaged or not. He said conditions were very windy and the fire intensified quickly.

Saugus Building Commissioner Fred Varone was unavailable for comment on the status of the structure.


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

Man shot on Henry Avenue in Lynn

By GAYLA CAWLEY

LYNN — A 28-year-old Lynn man was shot on Henry Avenue on Monday.

The victim was taken to Salem Hospital for a non-life-threatening gunshot wound to the right arm, Lynn Police Lt. Rick Donnelly said.

The shooting was reported to police at 10:50 a.m. on Henry Avenue near Lawton Avenue.

ALSO: Saugus Fire Department determines cause of three-alarm fire

The victim ran a couple of blocks to Showcase Laundromat on Washington Street, where, while bleeding, he asked people to call police, Donnelly said.

When police officers spoke with the victim, he had a difficult time breathing and couldn’t provide any information, but did say he didn’t know why someone would shoot him, Donnelly said.

There are no suspects at this time and the incident is under investigation.

Anyone with information is asked to call the anonymous tip line at 781-477-4444.

They can also send an anonymous text tip to the Lynn Police Department by texting the word “tiplynn” and information to tip411 or 847411.


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

Swampscott having a $2M pipe dream

By GAYLA CAWLEY

SWAMPSCOTT — A large portion of Monday’s special Town Meeting is expected to be devoted to discussing funds needed to clean up sewage discharging onto King’s Beach from Stacey Brook.

Town Meeting is scheduled for 7 p.m. at Swampscott High School.

There, town officials will be asking members to vote to allocate $2 million for the purpose of funding design and construction costs to eliminate non-stormwater pollutants from entering the town’s drainage system.

The funds would be used to clean up the sewage discharging into the ocean at King’s Beach at the Lynn-Swampscott line. Two separate outfalls have Lynn and Swampscott discharging right next to each other. Sewage is getting into the drainage pipe and then goes into the ocean.

Funds are needed to keep the town in compliance with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) consent decree, that requires the town to eliminate non-stormwater pollutants from entering the town’s drainage system. Last June, the town submitted its plan to the EPA to complete the first phase of construction work in 2017, according to town documents.

“I think the Stacey Brook article will get the most discussion only because it’s seeking the most appropriation,” said Gino Cresta, interim town administrator and department of public works (DPW) director.

Cresta said he expects Town Meeting members to want some explanation of the expenses of the project and appropriation needed going forward. He said that Phase 1 of the Stacey Brook project includes four phases of work, which when adjusted for inflation, will cost $10.7 million over eight years. Town Meeting members will be asked to approve $2 million every other year for the project.

The first two parts of Phase 1 of the project will include relining sewer mains and replacing sewer infrastructure that is more than 100 years old.

The DPW plans to procure a contractor for construction this winter, with work expected to begin by next spring, according to a presentation from Cresta at a recent Board of Selectmen meeting. But he said that can’t be done without the funds being approved at the special Town Meeting.

A two-thirds vote is needed to pass the appropriation, with the seven other articles on the Town Meeting warrant only requiring a majority.

Another article that might warrant discussion includes one centered around asking voters to approve $128,750 for the purpose of redesigning beach entrances to alleviate flooding.

The town was awarded a $103,000 reimbursement grant from Coastal Zone Management, which requires a 25 percent matching contribution from Swampscott. Despite the town only being responsible for $25,750 for the project, the total cost of the redesign has to be approved by Town Meeting members. Coastal Zone Management requires design completion by end of next June, according to town documents.

The Finance Committee did not recommend this article, but the selectmen did.

Selectman Peter Spellios said at a recent board meeting that he disagreed with the finance committee, and that it would be a “black mark” for Swampscott to receive the grant and then turn it down, if the appropriation was not approved. He said it would make the town less competitive for grants in the future.

Other major funds that Town Meeting members will be asked to appropriate is an additional $408,587 for trash and recyclable collections. The funds would make up the difference from the larger contract the town negotiated with their new trash hauler, Republic Services, after their former company, Hiltz Waste Disposal, abruptly ended garbage collection service on Aug. 31. Republic Services was hastily hired a day later. Hiltz has since declared bankruptcy.

With a special Town Meeting, Cresta said there could possibly be a quorum issue. To start the process on Monday, about 160 members need to show up.


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

Lynn Police arrest four for drug trafficking

By GAYLA CAWLEY

LYNN — Four men were pinched for cocaine trafficking after a traffic stop yielded more than 25 grams of crack on Wednesday.

Police saw a green Cadillac driving westbound around the Highlands at about 6:45 p.m., without an illuminated plate. They couldn’t get the plate number, and when the vehicle took a left onto High Rock Street, officers pulled it over. Four men were in the car, Lynn Police Lt. Rick Donnelly said.

An officer walked up to the driver, Mark Moore, 32, of Lynn, who did not have a license. Moore was also sweating profusely and was fidgety, according to Donnelly. The officer went back to his cruiser to run the driver’s license and plate. The other three Lynn men in the car, Byron Brown, 27, Darryl Kelsey, 34, and Terrell Tate, 25, weren’t wearing seatbelts so their licenses were taken to run as well, Donnelly said.

Police discovered that Moore had a warrant for his arrest and did not have a driver’s license. Officers also noticed the passengers passing things back and forth and moving things around in the car, so they called for back-up. Moore was arrested and the other three men were asked to step out of the car, Donnelly said, adding that none of them had valid driver’s licenses.

The vehicle was searched and in the right rear passenger area, there was a sandwich bag filled with numerous twists of crack cocaine. The crack was seized and weighed 25.5 grams, with a street value of $2,500, Donnelly said.

Brown, Kelsey and Tate were arrested and charged with cocaine trafficking and conspiracy to violate the drug law. Moore was charged with cocaine trafficking, conspiracy to violate the drug law, unlicensed operation of a motor vehicle, motor vehicle lights violation and on a warrant.


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

Saugus looks at pet project

By GAYLA CAWLEY

SAUGUS — There’s some paws for concern after the owners of Red Dog Pet Resort & Spa had their plans temporarily halted for a proposed outdoor area on the roof where their canine guests could relieve themselves.

The Red Dog owners won approval from the Board of Selectmen earlier this year to operate a two-story shop just off Route 1 in Saugus. The resort would feature a swimming pool, three indoor play spaces and two outdoor spaces. It’s big enough to house 150 dogs and 25 cats. The resort would also feature daycare and overnight boarding services, along with grooming services and other spa services.

The owners operate five other locations, one in Boston and four in the Cincinnati area.

Eric Schneider, president of the operation, said plans were to open the resort in the spring in Saugus, but not getting immediate approval from the selectmen for the roof area would delay construction and opening by three months.

He went before the board on Wednesday for modification of the special permit the business received over the summer. He said approval of the roofing area for bathroom use would be the last piece needed to get their building permit.

Schneider proposed building eight-foot block walls on the roof that would look exactly like the existing building, with brick on the front and painted red block on the side. There would be no roof on the walls. He said dogs can jump over six-foot walls, but not eight. Ten to 15 dogs would be brought outside to relieve themselves at a time, and wouldn’t be caged but would have individual chain link fence runs.

He said the structure would be for dogs that are guests on the second floor. First-floor dogs would have their own area to go outside. The dogs would be outside for three to five minutes and at staggered times, so when the first dog is going in, the last dog in the group would be brought out. They get four potty breaks a day and their feces would be picked up afterwards and sprayed into the drain, which goes into the regular sewer system, Schneider said. Foaming and spraying chemicals kills the smell, he added.

“The idea of this is to mirror their home life while they’re at their resort,” said Alyssa Regalia, executive director. “By taking them outside into an enclosure, they can relieve themselves and go back inside to eat, sleep and play.”

The selectmen raised concerns over noise from barking and fear that the dogs could jump over the wall off the roof.

Town Manager Scott Crabtree said his concern was that stormwater and rain would go onto the roof in areas that collect the elimination from animals. From a plumbing standpoint, he said the town can’t have stormwater going into the sewage system. He said the owners would need to have a plan approved by the Department of Public Works before the proposal could go forward.

Debra Panetta, board chairwoman, said she was not comfortable voting to approve the permit modification.

“The idea of putting dogs on the roof is frightening to me,” she said. “Some of these dogs have springs. They jump. That, along with the noise concerns me.”

To receive the modification, Panetta said there had to be at least four votes in favor from the five-member board. When Scott Brazis, vice-chair, also indicated that he might not vote in favor, Mark Mitchell, another board member, said that he didn’t think it was right that someone has a great idea for a business and now the selectmen would be potentially altering what they would be doing.

“This is a great opportunity for our town to have another great facility here for dogs,” Mitchell said. “It’s almost like we’re not advocating for these businesses.

If the board voted the roof area modification down, it could not be brought before them for another two years. Instead, Schneider was given an opportunity to withdraw his application, which he did. He offered the selectmen an opportunity to visit the Boston site of the business to see how a similar roof bathroom area would work, which they accepted, after approving his withdrawn application. The owners now have to reapply for the roof structure and seek approval again from the board at a later date.

If the roof bathroom area is not approved, Schneider and Regalia wouldn’t say for certain that they would be leaving town and looking for a new location. But they said it would be “disheartening.”


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

Central Square center of an MBTA protest

ITEM PHOTO BY OWEN O’ROURKE
Union members gathered to protest the privatization of the MBTA at the Central Square bus stop on Wednesday.

By GAYLA CAWLEY and THOMAS GRILLO

LYNN — Three dozen union members demonstrated at the MBTA Station in Central Square Wednesday to protest the Baker administration’s efforts to outsource jobs.

“Privatization doesn’t work,” said James O’Brien, president of the Boston Carmen’s Union, which represents more than 6,000 T workers. “If they privatize our bus services, it’s going to be on the backs of our riders and taxpayers of Massachusetts.”

The union has been holding what they call “informational rallies” at the region’s T stations. Members say privatization will lead to cuts in service, higher fares and even poorer maintenance.

They oppose the MBTA’s Fiscal and Management Control Board vote last month to privatize the transit agency’s so-called “money room” operation that employs 70 T workers.

The panel awarded a five-year, $18.7 million contract to Virginia-based Brink’s to oversee the T’s cash handling. Last summer, an independent security consultant found that millions of dollars collected from riders end up at the building in Charlestown. The review found widespread security issues at the facility that collects and counts about $119 million in cash annually. The MBTA said using outside workers would save more than $8 million in the first year.

But O’Brien insists going private will cost taxpayers even more. He fears Gov. Charlie Baker wants to expand outsourcing.

“If a private corporation comes in here and buys a portion of bus routes, they’re going to want to make a profit off of the taxpayers of Massachusetts,” he said.

Robert Didrikson, president of Local 600 MBTA Inspectors Union, said it’s essential to save these union jobs.

“It’s important for the public to keep this as public transportation,” he said.

Last year, the Baker administration convinced lawmakers to suspend the so-called Pacheco law. The measure limits the state from outsourcing jobs.

On the heels of the money room privatization, state Sen. Marc Pacheco (D-Taunton) has called on lawmakers to prevent more outsourcing at the T.


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

Lynn Police find missing woman

COURTESY PHOTO
Navy Long, reported missing Tuesday, was found safe after an all-night search by Lynn Police.

By GAYLA CAWLEY

LYNN — A 22-year-old woman reported missing Tuesday was found safe after an all-night search by Lynn Police.

Navy Long was found sleeping at her friend’s house on the Commons at 8 a.m. Wednesday and was returned home. Police received the call at 6:15 p.m., but were told that she had been missing since 4 p.m., Lynn Police Lt. Rick Donnelly said.

Donnelly said police searched all night for Long, who has special needs. He said she was found based on a tip that a school resource officer received from a former student, who had seen the Facebook post that Long was missing.


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

Robbery suspect turns himself in

By GAYLA CAWLEY

LYNN — Social media led to an unarmed robbery arrest on Tuesday.

Police responded to Valley Avenue at about 4:30 p.m. to meet a 16-year-old Lynn male who had been robbed outside there. The victim told police he had been punched in the face, thrown to the ground and robbed of his backpack and items from his pocket. He refused medical attention and said there were two men involved in the robbery, Lynn Police Lt. Rick Donnelly said.

Taken from the victim was a blue North Face backpack, $80 in cash and about seven grams of weed from his pocket. The victim told officers he was on his way home, when two suspects approached him from outside a vacant apartment building. He told police he knew one of them, by the name of Timothy, and that he was going to look him up through his Facebook account. He went on his phone and showed police a picture of Timothy Taylor, 18, of Lynn, who officers were able to identify, Donnelly said.

Police went to Rantoul Avenue, spoke with Taylor’s parents, but the suspect wasn’t there. Later that night, different officers were approached by Taylor, who told them he wanted to turn himself in, Donnelly said.

Taylor was arrested and charged with unarmed robbery. The incident is under investigation and the second suspect is described as a light-skinned man between the ages of 18 and 22.


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

Pair arrested for drug trafficking

By GAYLA CAWLEY

REVERE — Two people were busted for cocaine trafficking on Tuesday afternoon.

After complaints from neighbors, the Revere Police Drug/Gang Unit initiated an investigation into illegal narcotic sales at 260 Cushman Ave. A search warrant was received and executed at the address, said Revere Police Lt. Detective John Goodwin.

Police found and seized 34 grams of cocaine, with a street value of $1,500, scales, cell phones, packaging materials and approximately $2,000 cash, all consistent with illegal narcotic sales, Goodwin said.

Officers arrested Raymundo Henriquez, 33, who is alleged to have been selling from the residence, for cocaine trafficking. Abriana Christina Nieves, 26, was also arrested and charged with cocaine trafficking and on an outstanding warrant, Goodwin said.


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

9th Essex likes its representation

PHOTO BY NICOLE GOODHUE BOYD
Donald Wong holds onto his granddaughter, Ava Myers, 5, before entering the room to celebrate his re-election Tuesday at Kowloon.

By GAYLA CAWLEY

SAUGUS — Coming off a contentious race, state Rep. Donald Wong (R-Saugus) called for unity and healing after winning re-election.

Wong declared victory at the Kowloon Restaurant shortly before 9 p.m. even as results in the 9th Essex race continued to come in.

Wong defeated Democratic nominee Jennifer Migliore.

Wong received 12,766 votes to Migliore’s 10,541, according to unofficial results from city and town clerks from Lynn, Saugus and Wakefield.

Wong lost Ward 1, precincts 1 and 2 in Lynn, but handily won Wakefield and Saugus precincts. The Saugus Town Clerk’s office reported Wong received 6,451 votes to Migliore’s 4,790. In Wakefield, he won 4,753 to 3,656. In Lynn, Wong received 1,742 votes to Migliore’s 2,005.

Wong said Migliore called him at 9 p.m. to congratulate him and concede the race.

“It feels very good to win,” said Wong. “But now is the time to heal and bring our parties together for the good of the community. We have to look toward the future. The past is the past.”

Wong said he wanted to thank Migliore for wanting to be active in the community.

Migliore, 25, confirmed the concession and said “I am incredibly proud of the campaign we ran. We spoke with over 15,000 constituents and raised awareness about key issues. These are not the results we had hoped for, but I am confident that the conversations that we have started will benefit generations for years to come.”

Wong, 64, has held his seat since 2011. Before that, he served on Saugus Town Meeting and the Board of Selectmen. He has lived in Saugus for 40 years and is a third generation business owner of Kowloon.

Wong said he wanted to thank everyone who came out to vote and supported him.

“I’m glad that the election is over now so I can put 100 percent of my attention into my district again,” he said.


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

Water main breaks in Swampscott

By GAYLA CAWLEY

SWAMPSCOTT About a quarter of the town’s residents had low water pressure for several hours after a main break late Tuesday morning.

Interim Town Administrator and Department of Public Works (DPW) Director Gino Cresta said the water break occurred at about 11:30 a.m. to a six-inch main on Middlesex Avenue. He said the break occurred as a contractor installed handicap ramps where Middlesex intersects with Burrill Street. Cresta said the contractor hit a buried in-line gate valve.

Cresta said the break left two dozen houses from Paradise Road up to Foster’s Dam with no water while repairs were being made.

Service was restored by 4:30 p.m.

Cresta said repair work entailed digging down and removing the broken piece of pipe and putting in eight feet of six-inch pipe. After shutting the water down, he said the work took about two hours.

“This went very smoothly and I couldn’t be happier,” he said of the job done by his crew.  


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

Thankfully, it ends tomorrow

By GAYLA CAWLEY

Tomorrow, Tuesday, Nov. 8, after a contentious election season, voters will finally head to the polls to choose their next president and more locally, their next state representative and sheriff.

They’ll also be presented with four ballot questions. The two that have garnered the most statewide discussion center around legalizing recreational marijuana for adults over the age of 21 and lifting the cap on charter schools.

A choice in Saugus:

Voters in the 9th Essex District, which encompasses precincts 1, 2, 4-9 in Saugus; precincts 1, 2, 3 and 7 in Wakefield and Ward 1 precincts 1 and 2 in Lynn, will decide to either re-elect state Rep. Donald Wong (R-Saugus) or choose his challenger Democrat Jennifer Migliore.

Wong, 64, has held his seat since 2011. Before that, he served on Saugus Town Meeting and the Board of Selectmen. He has lived in Saugus for 40 years and is a third generation business owner of the Kowloon Restaurant on Route 1.

Migliore, 25, is a Saugus native. In her former job as a district representative for U.S. Rep. Seth Moulton (D-Mass.), she served as a liaison to the U.S. Department of Labor.

The race between Wong and Migliore has been filled a constant stream of insults over their respective campaign correspondence and has featured fierce forum-style debates. Wong has argued that his opponent lacks experience, when fact-checking her after the first debate. Migliore countered Wong is too involved in Saugus politics, when he needs to focus on Beacon Hill.

Migliore has said she wants state officials to reconsider action earlier this year on Wheelabrator’s request to extend the life of its landfill.

The Massachusetts Environmental Policy Act review of Wheelabrator’s proposal concluded that no further environmental review was necessary and that the proposal can be advanced to the state Department of Environmental Protection for permitting.

Migliore stated in a prior forum that Wong has been weak on the issue, saying that the people of Saugus are very concerned about the risk factor. But Wong said that he would be in favor of an additional federal study.

Both have said they will fight to keep Union Hospital open. They are against the legalization of the sale and use of recreational marijuana and are against funding for additional charter schools.

Picking a new sheriff:

Voters in Essex County will also be faced with choosing their new sheriff to replace retiring Sheriff Frank Cousins.

Their choices are between Lynn Police Chief Kevin Coppinger, a Democrat, Peabody City Councilor Anne Manning-Martin, a Republican, and two Independent candidates, Mark Archer, an attorney and former state trooper, and retired Essex County Commissioner Kevin Leach.

The Essex County Sheriff’s Department oversees people awaiting trial and inmates convicted of crimes. In addition to the House of Correction in Middleton, the sheriff operates the facilities in Lynn, Salem, Lawrence and Salisbury.

Coppinger has said he believes the sheriff’s office should be more involved in drug courts, which were established to provide intensive, supervised probation and mandatory treatment, as well as random drug testing with progress monitored by a supervising probation officer. He has argued for creating connections between jail and outside community programs to prevent relapse.

He started as a patrolman with the Lynnfield Police Department in 1983. Two years later, he joined the police force in Lynn.

Manning-Martin has served as a councilor-at-large in Peabody for the past nine years. She was formerly on the school committee for eight years. She spent 13 years working for the Suffolk County Sheriff’s Department before moving to a management position with the state Department of Corrections 12 years ago. She is the deputy superintendent of the Lemuel Shattuck Hospital correctional facility in Boston.

Manning-Martin has stated that experience with police is not transferrable to managing prisons. She argues that a police officer’s job is to take offenders off the street and put them in jail, while a sheriff provides offenders with the programming and treatment they need so they are less likely to commit crimes after being released from prison. She has vowed to work with Gov. Charlie Baker and the county’s municipalities to battle the opioid crisis.

Archer, a Lynn native, joined State Police in 1988, working as a road trooper and then an undercover narcotics officer. He has said that people are being stored in the system without proper contact with loved ones and without programs and services to help reduce relapse.

Leach’s 40 years of criminal justice and law enforcement experience started when he became a police officer in 1975. He supports the legalization of recreational marijuana and said in a prior forum that it’s difficult to become incarcerated in Massachusetts. He also stated that prisoners should earn physical contact with visitors through good behavior.

Answering the questions:

Opponents of Question 2, a ballot initiative to lift the state’s cap on charter schools argue that the schools are a drain on funding from traditional public education, while proponents say expansion will provide more opportunity for parents and their children.

Question 2, if passed, will authorize up to 12 new charter schools or enrollment expansions in existing charter schools annually by the state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education. Priority would be given to applicants who seek to open a charter school in public school districts performing in the bottom 25 percent. If it doesn’t pass, the existing charter school cap would be maintained.

Voters will also be faced with Question 4, where they will decide if marijuana will be legalized, regulated and taxed by the government.

Under the proposed new law, adults over the age of 21 would be able to use, grow and possess a limited amount of the substance. Up to 10 ounces and six marijuana plants can be kept inside a single home; up to an ounce can be carried, but not used, in public.

Opponents have cited concerns of impaired driving and are uneasy with legalizing another drug in the middle of an opioid epidemic. Proponents argue that impaired driving from marijuana will be handled the same way as that from alcohol and debunk the notion that the substance is a gateway drug.

Question 1 has also drawn local interest, specifically from Revere. Locally, the city overwhelmingly voted against a proposal to bring a slots parlor near the Suffolk Downs racing track. But the state still has to weigh in.

Eugene McCain, an investor, is behind the proposal for a new slots parlor to be located on land he has a $6.5 million to option to buy in Revere. Question 1 would allow for a slots parlor at a location at least four acres in size and within 1,500 feet of a race track. The gaming establishment would have no table games and no more than 1,250 slot machines.

City officials have come out strong against the proposal, while McCain has said the casino would generate more than $80 in new revenue for the state annually.

Picking a president:

Finally, Tuesday will also mark the date a new president is chosen. Voters will decide between Democrat Hillary Clinton, the former secretary of state, and Republican Donald Trump, a businessman, which will put an end to one of the most contentious presidential elections in the country’s modern history.

Polls are open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. in Massachusetts. A registered voter can find their polling place here.


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

Feeding off an idea in Salem

ITEM PHOTO BY OWEN O’ROURKE
Designer Michael Frechet, Selvin Chambers, executive director of Root, Jennifer Eddy, founder of Root and Sam Hunt, master chef, look at plans for the new kitchen at 35 Congress St. in Salem.

By GAYLA CAWLEY

SALEMRoot is a new Salem-based social enterprise focused on changing the narrative for at-risk youth by teaching them work and life skills through food service training.

Selvin Chambers, executive director of Root, said the nonprofit, based at Shetland Park, is focused on providing workforce employment opportunities for 16- to 24-year-old at-risk youth on the North Shore. He said the focus is to help them use food as a vehicle to train them to be employable.

The program, which is expected to begin in April, 2017, lasts about 16 weeks, where participants will learn hard and soft skills ranging from discipline to time management, along with cooking basics.

Chambers said participants will learn how to serve food in a cafe setting and work in the prep kitchen. Root’s event space will be a training ground where youth will work with clients who rent out the space from Root and use its catering service.

Root participants will also take part in a four-week internship with a local restaurant.

“In fact, it’s very intentional that they learn all aspects of the program,” Chambers said. “Therefore, as they’re going through the program, they’ll get a clear understanding of what the restaurant business is. Because when you look at it on TV, they glorify it. It looks like it’s a great place to be and reality is, we don’t want to scare them away. We want them to know it’s rigorous work, but there are different avenues…So, we want to make sure they have a well-rounded experience so when they do get into the workforce, they have an understanding of this is real work.”

Chambers said at-risk youth population statistics show that if young people are not employed, they drink, get in trouble and some even go to jail. He said the program is intended to train them to be employed, but also to be good citizens.

“Well, when you look at the stats for the population, aged 16 to 24, that at-risk population, those are the ones that struggle the most with really employability skills,” Chambers said. “And for us, it’s really working with that population to really position them for success.”

Essex County is home to more than 9,000 disconnected youth, or those between 16 to 24 years old who are not in school or working, according to statistics gathered by Root. Root is targeting youth who are currently enrolled in high school or a HiSET (High School Equivalency Test) program in Essex County.

The pilot program is expected to primarily attract students from Salem and Lynn, according to information from Root. The goal is to have four cohorts a year, with about 15 people in each one, to allow for more individualized attention. More than half of the students are expected to be Latinos. Chambers expects 400 applicants the first year.

Applicants are required to have a caring adult who signs on to be their mentor. Students will get a stipend. But if someone is homeless or has some drug and alcohol issues, Root is probably not the place for them, he added.

Rather than turn those away that don’t qualify with housing or addiction issues, Chambers said they would be directed to other services.

Chambers has been executive director for eight weeks and he said the organization is just getting off the ground. The program will cost about $1.4 million, which will mostly be funded through donations and grants, he said. Root also plans to use its food service businesses to raise some of the money needed to run the organization.

Root was founded by Jennifer Eddy of Ipswich, following a visit to an orphanage during an overseas trip.

“At the orphanage, they were realizing that some of the young people in the orphanage when they were kind of aging out, they didn’t want to just push them out to the streets,” Chambers said, “So, she came back here and said, ‘Oh, I want to try that.’”

There was also inspiration from Liberty’s Kitchen in New Orleans, according to Elisabeth Massey, a community volunteer for Root.

Chambers said the strategy is to partner with local high schools in the area and churches to recruit youth. He said Root will reach out to local youth serving organizations like The Food Project and Raw Art Works.

In some cases, Root will be a feeder organization and vice versa. If someone’s not a fit for his organization, they might be directed to the Food Project.

Master chef Sam Hunt is a recent Root hire. Hunt owned his own restaurant, but wanted to be able to provide a different opportunity for at-risk youth, said Chambers.

Massey said Root also fills a current need in the restaurant industry for trained staff.

“They are having a hard time finding help and so I think there’s a real opportunity for kids in this area to find jobs, that these jobs actually exist,” she said.

Root’s kick-off event is set for Thursday, Dec. 1 at 6:30 p.m. at its Shetland Park Facility. Chambers and Salem Mayor Kim Driscoll are expected to speak. Tickets are $75.


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

School Committee member is in a class by herself

ITEM FILE PHOTO
Patricia Capano

By GAYLA CAWLEY

LYNN — The longest sitting member on the Lynn School Committee has received state recognition for her leadership, sustained service and commitment to students.

Patricia Capano, school committee vice-chair, is being honored with the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Massachusetts Association of School Committees (MASC), at an awards dinner tonight at 7 p.m. at the Resort and Conference Center at Hyannis, 35 Scudder Ave.

“It’s humbling immediately,” Capano said. “That’s how I immediately felt. I was surprised. Then, I was humbled by it.”

Capano has served on the school committee, which is a member of MASC, for 20 years. She said it’s the first time a member from the city’s school committee has been recognized with the award during her tenure.

Glenn Koocher, MASC executive director, said he couldn’t recall the last time someone was recognized from Lynn. Capano was nominated by the MASC Board of Directors.

“She’s being recognized for her two decades of work on the school committee, for her civic involvement and for someone who’s recognized as a leader on the board,” said Koocher.

Koocher said Capano is one of 10 people being given a lifetime achievement award at the dinner.

When she found out she was being recognized, Capano said she started reflecting back on her time as a school committee member. A lot has changed in education, she added, citing the revamping of the Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System (MCAS) and schools transitioning to treating the child as a whole, with a growth of social workers in the buildings. She said Lynn schools have also become more diverse with a higher enrollment of English language learners.

“I think Lynn is a standout,” she said. “Lynn is doing a great job of serving and meeting the needs of so many students.”

Superintendent Dr. Catherine C. Latham said it was “absolutely fitting” that Capano was being honored for her work on the school committee.

“She has worked tirelessly over the past 20 years as a strong advocate for children in Lynn, supporting all of the superintendents, principals and teachers with whom she has worked,” she said. “She consistently and thoroughly researches important issues and educates herself and her fellow school committee members on key policy decisions before voting. Mrs. Capano is reliable, dependable and highly ethical, and it has been my honor, pleasure and privilege to work directly with her for the past eight years.”


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

Swampscott has high grades for superintendent

ITEM FILE PHOTO
Pamela Angelakis

By GAYLA CAWLEY

SWAMPSCOTT — Superintendent Pamela Angelakis has received a raise, based on a positive evaluation from the Swampscott School Committee.

The school committee unanimously approved a 1.5 percent raise for Angelakis on Wednesday night. Before the raise, her salary was $158,488, according to School Business Administrator Evan Katz.

The $2,377 raise, for a new $160,865 salary, is effective immediately, and retroactive to last July. Last year, Angelakis received a 2.25 percent raise, increasing her $155,000 former salary, Katz said.

“We really want the people of Swampscott to know that she has a 1.5 percent (raise), but this isn’t indicative of anything less than a job very well done,” said Amy O’Connor, school committee vice-chair. “If we were in a different financial situation, she would have a larger raise, but we just can’t do that at this time.”

The 27-year veteran of Swampscott schools was hired as superintendent in January 2014. Before that, she served as assistant superintendent for more than a year. Angelakis was also principal of Stanley School for eight years and was a teacher before that.

Angelakis received a “proficient” on her evaluation from the school committee, which was unanimously approved at the end of September. O’Connor said the superintendent met expectations across the board, with some areas where she was strong, and others that she was growing towards.

“All in all, she did well,” O’Connor said.

One notable strength for Angelakis in the review is an exemplary response to crisis situations. O’Connor said that more specifically refers to incidents such as the disgraced former Swampscott High School Principal Edward Rozmiarek and a hazing incident involving football players from the school.

Rozmiarek resigned in 2015, after a Beverly Police investigation revealed that he had a series of graphic Internet chats with someone he thought was a 13-year-old girl. The police report said that he was actually corresponding with a decoy from a nonprofit group called the Perverted Justice Foundation.

Another related strength listed for the superintendent is that she has shown leadership and flexibility in the realignment of the middle and high school leadership. Following Rozmiarek’s departure, Angelakis appointed Assistant Principal Frank Kowalski as interim principal through June 2016. Later, she appointed Robert Murphy, the former principal of Swampscott Middle School, as the high school principal for this school year. Jason Calichman, the former assistant principal of the middle school, was upgraded to the principal. She has said she hopes both will apply when their respective positions are posted.

Other notable strengths included her being transparent and open in all professional matters, creating and maintaining a positive and cooperative relationship with town government and diligent work to build a strong central office team.

Areas listed in the review that Angelakis needs to develop include technology vision and planning, a focus on site visits and the development of a communication strategy.

“Technology continues to be a major concern for all members of the school committee and will continue to insist that this be a major focus for the superintendent and the district,” the committee wrote in its review. “It is understood that successful completion of this goal was impeded by staffing issues in the technology department. The committee hopes that sufficient reorganization of that department will allow for forward progress to me in the upcoming year.”

Suzanne Wright, a school committee member, wrote in her review that Angelakis has improved her communication with the community, but she wanted to see more regular updates on the superintendent webpage and more internal communication with the school committee. But her overall review was positive.

“Overall, Ms. Angelakis continues to have a positive impact on the function and reputation of the SPS (Swampscott Public Schools),” she wrote. “This year saw the beneficial impact of central office reorganization, the hiring of a joint facilities director, human resource coordination, director of curriculum and instruction, and the smooth transition of a new director of student services. The central office seems to be running with many more efficiencies than ever.

“I appreciate Ms. Angelakis’ high expectations for all students, all staff, and especially for herself,” Wright continued. “I am hopeful that she will continue to challenge school practices that have been in place for a long time.”

Angelakis could not be reached for comment in time for the Daily Item deadline.


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

Gloucester man arraigned on murder charge

PHOTO BY PAULA MULLER
Sean Chandler is arraigned on murder and firearm-related charges in Lynn District Court on Wednesday morning.

By GAYLA CAWLEY

LYNN — A Gloucester man was arraigned in Lynn District Court on Wednesday on a murder charge for last Friday’s fatal shooting of Donald Yancy.

Sean Chandler, 29, pleaded not guilty to murder and other firearm-related charges and was held without bail. He is scheduled to appear in court on Dec. 14 for a probable cause hearing.

His attorney, John Andrews, said he had no comment.

Chandler was arrested Tuesday night at 631 Eastern Ave., Apt. 13, in Lynn. Lynn Police, State Police Violent Fugitive Apprehension Section (VFAS), State Police Special Tactical Operations (STOP) and State Police from the Essex County District Attorney’s office worked together throughout the week to find the suspect. He was taken into custody without incident, according to the DA’s office.

Lynn Police Lt. Rick Donnelly said when police went to execute the warrant for murder at the Eastern Avenue apartment at about 9:35 p.m., Chandler opened the door for them and was immediately arrested. The suspect was found to be in possession of a 9mm handgun, which was tucked into his waistband, Donnelly added.

After police found the gun, Chandler was subsequently charged with carrying a firearm without a license, carrying a loaded firearm without a license and firearm violation with two prior violent crimes or serious drug offenses.

Lynn Police responded to 6 Breed Square, Apt. 1, at approximately 10:15 p.m. last Friday and found Yancy, 38, with a gunshot wound to the head. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

The victim and suspect were well known to each other and witnesses reported the pair had a disagreement immediately prior to the shooting, according to the DA.

Following the shooting, an arrest warrant was issued for Chandler. Donnelly said the investigation is still ongoing.


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