Insurance

Wayne Alarm: Spring security check-ups

SAFETY TIP OF THE DAY

SPONSORED BY WAYNE ALARM AND HONEYWELL.

Regular maintenance can help increase the life expectancy of your alarm system and insurance coverage, too. It is known that  security providers require monthly or yearly maintenance. However, you can do a self-maintenance as well. Older systems should be checked every three months, whereas newer systems are checked every six months. When doing check-ups, remember to notify your provider that it is just a test, so emergency support aren’t dispatched.

  • Fire and Smoke Detectors – According to The National Fire Alarm Code, smoke detector are required to be inspected annually. To ensure its proper functionality, check it by pressing and holding the button labeled “test.” In doing so, an alarm will sound. Remember to always follow along to the instructions instructed in the manual that can also give you help in keeping it up to date. Another tip is cleaning it with a vacuum cleaner(at least once a year) to remove any particles that couple affect the smoke alarm performance.
  • Video Surveillance –  If using video surveillance is one of your top security strategies, it can definitely use regular maintenance. To ensure a clear picture and uninterrupted feed, clean off the camera lens with a lens wipe and cleaner, and simply dust the camera’s exterior clean. Check daily for correct date and time that is often displayed on the monitor, sometimes brief power outages might require it to be reset.

Checking your system in your business is just as important, too.

  • Checking fire alarms in your businesses is just as important. Have it inspected to check if everything is up to date. If it is not being tested regularly, it could be more susceptible to false alarms.

Regularly checking if your security system is functioning properly can make a huge difference and can be useful in a time of emergency. Don’t hesitate to check on your system today, and reach our customer service for further questions.

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Let’s hear it for Jim Hughes

ITEM FILE PHOTO
Jim Hughes sits among mounds of papers and boxes at his insurance agency in Swampscott.

To call Jim Hughes a Swampscott institution is an understatement: After 57 years as a local businessman, Hughes retired on May 30. Born in Brockton but practically a lifelong Swampscott resident, Hughes personifies the rock-solid, small town merchant who helps defines Main Streets across America.

Described with love by his daughter, Kristin, as “a bit of a workaholic,” Hughes understands the important role a local insurance man plays in the lives of neighbors and friends. Bad things happen, accidents and even tragedies occur, and insurance makes the difference between surviving and moving on and floundering.

Hughes and dozens of other local businessmen and women who have been town constants for decades also understand why small business matters in towns like Swampscott. The heart and soul of a little community in many ways is defined by its mom and pop stores and storefront, walk-in businesses where employees know their customers by the first name and the conversation centers on family before it turns to business.

Hughes deserves a wonderful retirement centered on family and fun. But here’s hoping his talents, his institutional knowledge and experience can be harnessed going forward to provide invaluable guidance and advice to new entrepreneurs.

Opening a business is a courageous challenge and there are basic reasons why well-intentioned people with good ideas close up shop after a few months or a year. Not all great cooks are good business people. Not all talented hairdressers can manage employees or balance the books.

Swampscott insurance man calls it a career

Hughes and small business owners like him survived because they mastered the precarious balancing act involved in staying alive as a pint-sized entrepreneur. They learned to realistically evaluate risk, hard work, and the realities of business financing.

Small businesses are America’s lifeblood and an entryway into society for new arrivals to this country as well as people who learn a trade or hold a newly-minted diploma. But great ideas and freshly-acquired talents and degrees don’t guarantee business success.

The people who rent storefronts and, eventually, buy commercial real estate in towns like Swampscott help shape and define a town’s character and determine if a small town has an economically-viable business sector or Main Street. America is dotted with small towns where an exodus of talented young people created an economic vacuum that triggered the town’s decline.

Swampscott is in no danger of entering an economic dead zone, but the talents of Jim Hughes and other retired businesspeople can be harnessed to provide a mentorship pool to young entrepreneurs. The SCORE program in Lynn already provides executive coaching to people launching small businesses and the SCORE concept can be expanded and tailored to small town businesses.

A new career awaits Jim Hughes after the last glass is raised at his retirement party. He has given plenty to Swampscott and he has a reservoir of talents to share with business owners following in his footsteps.

Swampscott insurance man calls it a career

ITEM PHOTO BY SPENSER HASAK
Jim Hughes sits among mounds of papers and boxes at his insurance agency in Swampscott.

SWAMPSCOTT — It wasn’t that long ago that Jim Hughes, in a profile in 01907 magazine, was somewhat dismissive of the prospect of retiring, despite the fact that he had been running his own insurance business for 55 years at the time.

When Hughes walked out of his Burrill Street office May 30 for the last time, however, it wasn’t because he had an epiphany in the interim. He simply felt it was time to call it a career.

“We had a good run. The hardest part for any of us is to decide it is time,” said Hughes, 85, the proprietor of James L. Hughes Insurance for 57 years. “Who knows? I hope I’m right.”

When it comes to providing hands-on customer service, Hughes did it the right way since he hung a shingle in 1960.

To say Hughes never embraced modern technology would be an understatement. He once begrudgingly admitted owning a cell phone, but proudly insisted he didn’t even know the number. He managed to run a business in the Internet age without having a web site. E-mail? Not a chance.

“I would rather pick up the phone (landline, of course) and talk to people,” he said. “All the technology is great – until you run into a problem.”

You likely couldn’t survive as a new business with such an anti-technology bent, but Hughes was well established by the time the World Wide Web launched. He had about 450 clients when he closed the door, after agreeing to sell his business to Wood & Associates in Lynn.

Hughes had only two full-time assistants in almost six decades: Jeanne (Connelly) Quealy, who worked for him for more than two decades, and Tina Brown, who started with him in 1985 and walked out the door with him last week.

“We’ve had a great relationship,” Brown said. “He knew he could come and go as he pleased and everything would work out. He was a good boss.”

Hughes is virtually a lifelong Swampscott resident, having been born in Brockton and moving here when he was a year old. He grew up on Humphrey Street, across from the former Temple Israel. His parents, J. Lee and Geneva Hughes, wanted him to go to Catholic school so they sent him to St. John’s elementary and then St. Mary’s Boys High School in Lynn, though he transferred to St. John’s Prep after a few days.

An election year exodus

Hughes played football at The Prep and graduated in 1950. He went on to Holy Cross and was there for two national championships: a College World Series title in 1952 and NIT championship in ’54, his senior year.

His plan to enlist in the Air Force was derailed by a car accident that left him with a badly injured back. He chose to follow the same career path as his father, who worked as an insurance claims manager in Boston. After a year at Aetna, Hughes decided to go out on his own.

“I decided I would be better off opening my own business,” said Hughes. “I was 27 and I started with zero dollars.”

To his daughter, Kristin, it’s no mystery why he enjoyed such success and longevity.

“He’s a bit of a workaholic,” she said. “He likes to grind. Insurance is something you trust will be there when something goes wrong. That personifies my dad.”

In addition to owning a business and supporting a variety of causes in the town, Hughes has been a fabric of the athletic culture in the sports-crazed town for 50 years, serving as an assistant to legendary football coach Stan Bondelevitch and starting both the boys and girls CYO basketball programs. Later in life, he was a co-coach of the Swampscott High golf team with the late, great Bob Jauron.

“My dad really liked him and that means a lot to me,” said Dick Jauron, Swampscott’s best all-time athlete and a long-time friend of Hughes.

“Jim has been a rock, someone you could depend on being there,” Jauron added. “He wanted to help you be a better athlete and a better person. He ended up representing all that is good about volunteering your time and helping kids develop into happy, productive adults. He cared, and it really showed.”

Hughes and his wife, Nancy, have been married for 55 years and have three adult daughters – Tricia, Kim and Kristin – and two granddaughters, Daphne and Emma. Other than walking the beach and going to daily Mass, Hughes isn’t sure how he will spend his newfound free time, but he hopes he’ll figure it out.

“My wife is the one I feel bad for,” he said, echoing the good-natured thoughts of many.

 

A Memorial Day low point for veteran

COURTESY PHOTO
This 2016 Suzuki DRZ-400SM was stolen.

By GAYLA CAWLEY

LYNN — A U.S. Navy veteran’s motorcycle was stolen right out of his driveway on Memorial Day, the holiday that honors fallen armed service members.

Jeff Dahlberg, 36, lives in Lynn with his wife, Lindsay. The pair spent much of Memorial Day weekend away from home, but returned Monday evening and Jeff’s motorcycle, a 2016 Suzuki DRZ-400SM, was still in their driveway. He said in a phone interview that the bike was stolen sometime between 6-7 p.m. on Monday and 5:30 a.m. on Tuesday, when he went to take it to work.

“I would just like to find the person who took the bike and have it returned, no questions asked,” 35-year-old Lindsay Dahlberg wrote in a Facebook post. “We can’t afford to buy him another one, but we can ask for it to be brought back. Please help. I think since he has done so much for the country already, this is just a horrible, nasty thing to do on Memorial Day, of all days — a day when he should have been resting and remembering those he lost.”

Lindsay said there are multiple ways people would know their house belongs to a veteran, including a family car that touts the ship he served on, the USS Denver, along with his machinist mate status on the windows.

Jeff said he thought someone was playing on a joke on him when he noticed his bike was missing, but then he realized that it was really gone. He said there hadn’t ever been any issues in their neighborhood. They live around the Diamond District, right off of Eastern Avenue.

The pair said packages often get delivered to their home and have never been taken. Neighbors help dig each other out during snowstorms, Jeff added.

“It’s just a really strange situation for us,” Lindsay said. “We were really surprised.”

No holes barred: It’s National Donut Day

Jeff served for eight years in the U.S. Navy. His oldest of three daughters was born the day before 9/11, and he didn’t come back until she was walking. He has PTSD, arthritis, back problems, leg problems, hearing issues, and even fought paralysis to get to walking again, Lindsay said. Jeff said he has been deployed three times, including time spent in Afghanistan and Iraq.

“However, this past Monday, someone decided to steal his motorcycle he had been working on for months to get into condition to enjoy this summer,” Lindsay wrote on Facebook. “This is his only real joy in life besides his children. He was supposed to travel with my brother for a weeklong trip on Friday, which he has now canceled. We would love help in figuring out who would do this.”

She said her husband and brother were preparing to leave for Tennessee, on a motorcycle trip her brother goes on every year, to the Tail of the Dragon.

Jeff said there was a time period when he didn’t own anything besides a bike, adding that motorcycles seem like an odd hobby for New England. He lived in San Diego for 10 years, where he was based.

The couple, who have been together for a decade and married for five years, met in San Diego, when Lindsay was in law and graduate school. She later returned home to Massachusetts after finishing school, and the pair eventually settled in Lynn.

They are hopeful the bike will be returned. They’ve shared their story on social media and there is a Craigslist posting for the stolen bike. Anyone who has seen or found the motorcycle is urged to respond to the ad or contact the Lynn Police Department.

Jeff said he’s hoping for the bike to show up and not be in horrible shape. He filed a police report and has contacted his insurance company. He said a friend of his recommended sending an email to local motorcycle shops to give them a heads-up about a stolen bike, and one of the New England motorcycle dealers responded that they had shared the information with all of their chains.

“Hopefully, it turns up,” Jeff said.


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

 

Wayne Alarm: Questions to ask your landlord

SAFETY TIP OF THE DAY

SPONSORED BY WAYNE ALARM AND HONEYWELL.

There are often important questions that you should be asking that you could forget about. Develop a checklist and take it with you to ensure that everything is how you want it. Below are some important safety questions that you should be asking before you move in.

Are The Appliances Working Properly?

It is extremely frustrating when you move into a new apartment to just realize that important appliances aren’t working the way they should. When checking out a home or apartment make sure that the burner, refrigerator and water tanks work.

Are Draperies, Blinds Or Curtains Included?

Windows treatments aren’t always included when you move into a new place. Sometimes they are and other times they are not. Be sure to check because you don’t want strangers looking in your home and seeing all your valuables.

Have The Locks Been Updated?

You want to be sure that nobody else has a key to your home. Ask your landlord if the locks have been changed before you move in.

How Are The Surrounding Apartments?

Getting some insight about who your close neighbors will be can make a difference. If you can find this information out, ask about children, pets, activities, what your neighbors do for a living, and more. This is especially the case if you live in an apartment complex as you will be interacting with these people more.

How’s The Lighting?

Ask your landlord about lighting but we also advise you to check out the complex at night. Proper lighting can make a big difference.

Do you have a fire extinguisher?

Make sure that your apartment comes with a fire extinguisher. If it doesn’t have one then consider buying one in the case of an emergency.

Is there currently a security system at your new place? Security systems not only provide safety and security for you and your family, but also saves about 10-15% on your home insurance.  Today they are much more than just security systems. You can control your lights, thermostat, video cameras, and more all thru your Wayne Alarm System. If you don’t have one, call us today at 781-595-0000 or email sales@waynealarm.com

Asking simple but extremely important questions such as these can make a big difference. When you are moving into a new place you more than ever want to know that you’re safe.

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Moulton rips ‘terrible’ health care bill

ITEM FILE PHOTO
U.S. Rep Seth Moulton is pictured in a file photo.

By THOMAS GRILLO

All nine Democratic Massachusetts congressmen voted against the GOP’s bill to dismantle the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, but President Donald Trump muscled the health care bill through the House Thursday.

“It’s a terrible bill,” U.S. Rep. Seth Moulton (D-Mass.) told The Item. “It takes away health care from millions of Americans, gives a tax cut to the wealthy, shifts the tax burden onto middle class families and worsens the deficit.”

Trump’s victory comes six weeks after the Republicans failed to pass the measure amid disagreements with the White House that sank the measure.

The legislation passed the House by a 217-213 vote, as all voting Democrats and 20 mostly moderate Republican holdouts voted no. A defeat would have been politically devastating for Trump and House Speaker Paul Ryan, (R-Wisconsin).

The bill now faces an uncertain fate in the Senate, where even GOP lawmakers say major changes are likely.

Republicans have promised to erase President Barack Obama’s law since its 2010 enactment. But this year, with a Republican in the White House and control of both houses in Congress, is their first real chance to deliver. But polls have shown a public distaste for the repeal effort, instilling fear among Republicans who could pay a price in next year’s congressional elections.

Deadline Friday for Lynn Youth Summer Jobs

The bill would eliminate tax penalties of the law which has charged people who don’t buy coverage and it erases tax increases in the Affordable Care Act on higher-earning people and the health industry. It cuts the Medicaid program for low-income people and allows states to impose work requirements on Medicaid recipients. It transforms Obama’s subsidies for millions buying insurance based on people’s incomes and premium costs into tax credits that rise with consumers’ ages.

It would retain Obama’s requirement that family policies cover grown children until age 26.

But states could get federal waivers freeing insurers from other Obama coverage requirements including charging people with pre-existing illnesses higher rates than healthy customers, boost prices for older consumers to whatever they wish and ignore the mandate that they cover specified services like pregnancy care.

The bill would block federal payments to Planned Parenthood for a year, considered a triumph by many anti-abortion Republicans.

U.S. Rep. Joseph Kennedy (D-Mass.) said he was disappointed in the vote.

“TrumpCare codifies a worldview that divides America by fate and fortune,” Kennedy said in a statement. “A worldview that scapegoats the struggling and suffering and that see illness as inadequacy. The ultimate test of our country’s character is not the power we give the strong, but the strength we give the weak.”


Material from Associated Press contributed to this report. Thomas Grillo can be reached at tgrillo@itemlive.com.

 

Nahant house goes to the birds

ITEM PHOTO BY SPENSER HASAK
The house at 25 Furbush Road is set to be torn down by the Nahant Preservation Trust.

By BRIDGET TURCOTTE

NAHANT — Neighbors say Avis “Louise” Haynes, who died in 2007, would have been happy for her home to become part of the town’s bird sanctuary.

Haynes was the last person to live in the five-room home at 25 Furbush Rd., which sits overgrown with weeds and bushes and has vines climbing its sides. The roof is in disrepair and the structure suffers from water and flood damage, but through the large windows at the home’s corner, a leather chair looks out with a stack of books on the table beside it.

“It would have been nice to see the house rebuilt,“ said Jeannie Buckley, Haynes’ neighbor for about three decades. “I believe it was tied up with her will. The person who inherited it didn’t want it. But years ago when Louise lived here, she said she would leave it to the Audubon Society when she died. This would have been what she wanted.”

Emily Potts, chairwoman of the Nahant Preservation Trust said once the property is converted back to open space, it will serve as an extension to the Nahant Thicket Wildlife Sanctuary, which, at four acres, is among Mass Audubon’s smallest sanctuaries.

“I think (Louise) saw the need,” said Potts. “She was a nature lover.”

The town recently took over the 11,700 square foot property after several years of non-payment of taxes. It was sold through a public auction for $6,000 to the Nahant Preservation Trust in January.  Under the selectmen’s direction, the sale was conditioned on the existing 1,082 square foot structure being removed and the use limited to open space, giving the buyer no option to build on the land. The house was built in 1946.

Getting Revere in the pipeline

The trust is asking the town to appropriate $20,650 from the Community Preservation fund to demolish the existing house at the corner of Furbush and Walton roads. The funds will also cover the cost of remediating hazardous materials, and site restoration by the Nahant Preservation Trust.  

The trust, in a partnership with Nahant Safer Waters In Massachusetts, is committed to matching the Community Preservation money and has already raised between $18,000 and $19,000, said Potts. The overall cost is estimated to be $41,300, including excise and real estate taxes, closing costs, hazardous materials study and abatement, demolition, and filling in the ground.

A hazardous material assessment was performed, determining that the building and its partial basement is uninhabitable and needs to be demolished. Once the house is gone, the property will be returned to open space, as required under the terms of the sale.

“It’s a very difficult area,” said Selectman Enzo Barile. “This benefits the town with flood insurance. The more open space we have, especially in the floodplain, which this is, when (the Federal Emergency Management Agency) calculates our community rating system, our rates will go down. FEMA will see we’re trying to mitigate the flood rates.”

Barile added that, as the property sat abandoned, it became an eyesore and a danger to the community. As part of an intertidal zone, the property and the land around it have been difficult to build on. One landowner of a nearby property donated her parcel to the Audubon Society because she didn’t have another use for it, he said.

Potts said she expects the project to be completed in six months, should Town Meeting grant the funding.


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

Homebuying seminars to be held at bank.

North Shore Bank has partnered with Coastal Homebuyer Education, Inc., to offer a series of education programs that are designed to demystify the home buying process. Typically offered on a monthly basis, these two-day programs feature topics like:

  • How to obtain a mortgage
  • Learning to work with realtors
  • The importance of home inspections
  • The role of attorneys
  • How to purchase insurance
  • Special issues for condominiums and multi-family homes

These workshops are also certified by Citizens’ Housing and Planning Association (CHAPA), the Massachusetts Housing Partnership (MHP) and MassHousing. This is a particularly important distinction as completion of a first time home buying education program is often required by lenders as a precondition for obtaining a mortgage.

North Shore Bank will also provide a closing cost credit of $250 to those who attend a seminar and then obtain a first-time homebuyer mortgage through the bank. Please note this offer can also be combined with our existing First-Time Homebuyer credit — bringing your savings to $750.*
To check out the schedule of upcoming workshops, or to reserve your space, CLICK HERE

*Subject to credit approval — NMLS Number. 466007

Survey: Lynn should confront finance issues

By THOMAS GRILLO

LYNN — A team of consultants told the city what they already knew: Confronting Lynn’s fiscal challenges will hurt.

In a stark report presented to the City Council Tuesday, a Philadelphia financial advisory services firm that specializes in advising municipalities, said the city should not issue raises after union contracts expire, freeze hiring, contract EMS services to a private company, and eliminate 35 city jobs.  

“Lynn now faces a critical moment,” said The PFM Group in the 18-page survey. “Absent corrective action, the city’s general fund is projected to have an $8.6 million deficit in 2017 and in each of the next five years … the longer it takes Lynn to confront its fiscal challenges, the harder and more painful it will become to implement viable solutions.”

Vieen Leung, a PFM senior managing consultant and one of the study’s authors, said to close the gap the city should consider increasing fees annually, raise taxes and implement a local meals tax.

“The deficits are real and they are daunting,” she told the Council.

Leung also said the city lacks long-term planning for capital improvements. Lynn must figure out a way to determine a city building’s life expectancy and how to fund new construction.

“The city has underinvested in its infrastructure over the last decade,” she said.

The team also recommended the city control employee pay and benefits and increase the amount city workers pay for health insurance.      

A day for optimism

Last winter, the state Department of Revenue provided Lynn with a $75,000 grant to hire PFM and help City Hall create a five-year plan toward better fiscal responsibility.

A team of three municipal finance experts combed through the city’s books over the last few months and presented the council with an outline of how to get the city back on track.

PFM said while revenues are projected to grow at an annual rate of 2.9 percent annually driven largely by property taxes and state aid, operating expenditures are expected to swell by 3.2 percent.

In at least one exception to the no-new-hire rule, PFM recommends the city hire a full-time chief financial officer (CFO) and potentially a city manager.

Today, Peter Caron, the city’s CFO, spends half of his time managing the city’s finances and the other half as head of assessing.

“While this arrangement has allowed the city to save salary costs, CFO duties should not be held by an employee who already leads one or more other departments,” the report said.

In a brief interview on Tuesday, Lynn Mayor Judith Flanagan Kennedy said she questioned some of the recommendations on how to close the budget gap.

“Some of the assumptions they used are completely unrealistic to implement, such as no wage increases through 2022,” she said.


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

 

Slow down: Speed limits could change

PHOTO BY PAULA MULLER
A pickup truck drives down Eastern Avenue in Lynn.

By THOMAS GRILLO

LYNN – If a proposal before the Traffic Commission is enacted, motorists will have to drive a little slower in the city.

Next Tuesday the five-member panel will consider reducing the speed limit to 25 in thickly settled sections of Lynn.

“If lowering the speeding limit would reduce the amount of accidents and increase public safety, we endorse it,” said Police Lt. Michael Kmiec.

Lynn’s proposal comes as other cities and towns including Boston, Somerville, and Peabody have already adopted the change that drops the default speed limit from 30 miles per hour to 25.

Last year, the Legislature adopted the Municipal Modernization Act, which allows municipalities to decrease their speed limits.

Safety experts say for every mile per hour slower motorists drive, the less likely they are to cause severe injury or death if they strike a pedestrian or cyclist.

Statistics have shown that when struck by a vehicle going 40 mph, only one in 10 pedestrians survive. Conversely, when struck by a car going 20 mph, nine out of 10 pedestrians survive.

In February, the Peabody City Council adopted the city’s default speed limit to 25 miles per hour.

Swampscott auction is about to set sale

Still, not everyone is convinced it’s the right idea.

Commission member Robert Stilian said he needs more information before making up his mind.

“I’m still trying to decide whether this is a good idea,” he said. “If we do go forward with it, we’d need new signs and drivers must be given fair warning, because a speeding ticket can impact the cost of car insurance for many years.”

Boston Mayor Martin J. Walsh said the lower speed limit will bring Boston closer to its goal of eliminating traffic-related deaths by 2030.

“Reducing the default speed limit will create safer roads for all, and I’m pleased our hard work and commitment to safer roads has created this new standard,” said Walsh in a statement.


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