Pine Hill

Off and running in Lynn

PHOTO BY MARK LORENZ
State Sen. Thomas McGee, with his wife Maria, signs his nomination papers as election coordinator Mary Jules watches.

State Sen. Thomas M. McGee’s decision to take out nomination papers Monday and declare his candidacy for mayor kicks off the 2017 municipal election season in Lynn.

It would be easy to call the matchup between Mayor Judith Flanagan Kennedy and McGee a Lynn mayors race for the ages. But doing so might prompt Kennedy to point out how she essentially ran a write-in campaign in 2009 to defeat two-term mayor Edward J. Clancy Jr.

She beat Clancy only after a recount, but Kennedy received electoral vindication in 2013 by soundly trouncing former City Council President Timothy Phelan, a popular councilor who made the Council Chamber a stage for his agenda during the 2013 campaign season.

The late Patrick J. McManus also did his share to make Lynn political history. In his first run for mayor, McManus took on not only Mayor Albert V. DiVirgilio, but another popular local political figure, John L. O’Brien Jr.  McManus won the election and the only political hiccup he faced during his 10 years as mayor came when he finished second in the 1993 preliminary election behind former Councilor Joseph Scanlon III. McManus went on to beat Scanlon in the final.

McGee hasn’t run a tough, knock-down campaign since 2002 when he won election to succeed Clancy in the Senate. But the 61-year-old Pine Hill resident combines a quiet deliberative manner with an outspoken passion for the the city of Lynn. McGee will surround himself in the coming weeks with smart, experienced campaigners.

Weighing in on possible Kennedy v. McGee race

Like Kennedy, he supported the failed proposal to build two new local middle schools. But McGee and Kennedy kept fairly quiet in the weeks leading up to the March 21 special election that saw the school proposal and a proposed property tax debt exclusion get squashed by the voters.

Both candidates will examine the school vote with a practiced eye and calculate its political ramifications. The strong “no” vote sent a message about city finances and voter anger over a city demand for additional taxes to build new schools.

It also prompted a negative reaction to the city’s newest arrivals. More than one “no” voter took to social media to oppose building new schools and provide educational opportunities for immigrants. Kennedy and McGee are both above this sort of rhetoric, but that does not mean they will not be asked to address it during the mayoral campaign.

McGee in his first comments as candidate for mayor took the smart approach in analyzing the school vote. Now is the time, he said, for the city to “step back and take a deep breath” and then begin a dialogue over “what new schools mean to the community.”

Kennedy, meanwhile, is wrestling with the realities of what it means to be mayor by asking city department heads to make across-the-board cuts.

City finances, schools and a host of other issues, including development, will be on the agenda when McGee and Kennedy face off in campaign debates. Long before the first debate is scheduled, people who like both candidates and have relationships with them will have to pick someone to support or declare themselves neutral. Let the campaign begin.

City put to test Tuesday

PHOTO BY PAULA MULLER
Brant Duncan, right, of Lynn, talks to Eric and Bibiana Rogers at their home on Glenwood Street. Duncan was campaigning for a “Yes” vote for new schools.

By THOMAS GRILLO

LYNN If early voting is any indication, Tuesday’s special election about funding a pair of new middle schools should bring more voters to the polls than the last time a new school was put on the ballot.

By noon Friday, the City Clerk reported 1,000 absentee votes have been cast in advance of the March 21 special election. Voters who can’t make it to the polls on Tuesday have until noon today to vote at City Hall.

While 1,000 votes may not seem like a lot in a city with more than 52,000 registered voters, consider that only 93 early voters came out before the 2013 vote to approve borrowing $92 million for design and construction of the new Thurgood Marshall Middle School.

The controversial initiative seeks approval to borrow $188.5 million to pay for a 652-student school to be built on Parkland Avenue and a second one to serve 1,008 students on Commercial Street. A second question asks voters to OK an exemption from Proposition 2½, the tax-limit law.  

In the high stakes election, parents of school children and educators are pitted against a coalition of Pine Hill residents who say they oppose the Parkland Avenue site because it should be preserved to expand nearby Pine Grove Cemetery.

“Both sides have gotten their message out and we expect a big turnout,” said Jane Rowe, City Clerk and Elections Chief. “People aren’t coming in and talking about they voted so we really won’t know how people voted until Tuesday night.”

The election was originally scheduled for March 14. But as a blizzard threatened to shut down the Bay State with more than a foot of snow, the vote was postponed by Essex Superior Court Judge Peter Lauriat. In an emergency meeting last week, the City Council moved the election to the 21st.

In a filing to the city on campaign spending, Protect Our Reservoir — Preserve Pine Grove, a grassroots organization founded to fight the ballot question, reported it raised $1,395 from Jan. 1 through Feb. 24.  Two Schools For Lynn, a group of residents and teachers who favor the new schools, reported $11,055 in donations, much of the cash from the Lynn Teachers Association and public officials.  Sen. Thomas McGee (D-Lynn) is the lastest elected official to say he will vote for the new schools. “I’m planning to vote yes,” he said. “The kids need the new schools.”


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

Kennedy makes final push on school vote

ITEM FILE PHOTO
Mayor Judith Flanagan Kennedy speaks with the Item at her office.

By THOMAS GRILLO

LYNN — Mayor Judith Flanagan Kennedy won’t say whether she will seek a third term this fall, but the city’s chief executive is sure acting like a candidate.

In a wide ranging interview with The Item this week, the mayor laid out her goals for 2017.

At the top of her list is winning Tuesday’s vote for construction of two new middle schools. The special election on March 14 asks homeowners to approve a property tax increase for 25 years for the $188.5 million project that would build a school on Parkland Avenue and a second in West Lynn.

“Next week will give us an indication of whether we will be able to move forward with providing our students with the same kind of education they receive at the new Marshall Middle School,” she said.  “I just hope there is no confusion that voters need to vote yes on both questions in order for it to pass. If you favor the new schools, vote yes for both or it will fail.”

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

While the mayor is optimistic that voters will approve the ballot initiative, she is considering Plan B should the vote fail.

‘We would go back to the Massachusetts School Building Authority and start over,” said the mayor, referring to the quasi-independent government agency that funds a portion of school construction projects. “And hope that within a few years we could turn the vote around.”

While opponents of the school site on Parkland Avenue say a better alternative is to renovate the Pickering Middle School, the mayor said the city lacks the $44.2 million it would take to gut the 90,000-square-foot facility and install new systems, classrooms, gym, cafeteria and labs.

“We simply can’t afford it out of the city budget,” she said.

Current system not sustainable, Latham says

Also in the planning stages is a marketing staffer for the Lynn Auditorium, the city’s 2,100-seat concert hall, that would be paid for by ticket sales.

“We could reach more people and expand if we had someone to do marketing,” she said.

Kennedy is also planning to spend $400,000 for a study to replace Engine 9 on Tower Hill and Engine 7 on Pine Hill with a fire safety building in West Lynn at a cost of $15-20 million.

“Those buildings are 100 years old and continuing to show signs of aging,” she said.  “We would build one facility and perhaps move dispatch into the new station and save on rent.”

The mayor also plans to seek $100,000 in grants to restore the Angell Memorial Fountain at Broad and Nahant streets. Built in the early 1900s  in memory of George T. Angell, the founder of Boston’s Angell Memorial Hospital, the fountain once served as a horse trough.

In addition, the mayor said summer job applications for teens are available at the personnel office in City Hall. Selection for the 120 jobs will be done by lottery.

While no one has declared their candidacy for mayor, local political observers say Kennedy will run. State Sen. Thomas McGee (D-Lynn) and City Councilor-at-Large Brian LaPierre have said they are exploring the possibility of running. McGee recently held a fundraiser in Boston and may have been the person behind a citywide poll on the race.

Kennedy and LaPierre said they had nothing to do with the poll. But a McGee spokeswoman did not respond when asked the question.


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

Calnan: New middle schools make sense

Edward T. Calnan:

I write as a member of the building committee for the new Pickering Middle School to be located off Parkland Avenue and another middle school proposed at McManus Field in West Lynn.

I want to correct some misinformation that has been circulating by the opponents of the school at the Parkland Avenue site. The suggestion has been made that the school would have a negative environmental impact on the nearby reservoir which is part of Lynn’s great water supply system.

I have walked this site myself. The new school will be built on 12 acres of the 44 acres available. The building will be located more than 250 feet from the reservoir, much farther away than the minimum requirements.

It should be noted that some homes in an adjoining neighborhood have been built in the past, much closer to the reservoir. The topography is such that the area to be built upon slopes away from the reservoir and surface water will drain naturally to wetlands on the site, as it does now.

The new building will be tied into the city’s sewer and drainage system. This project is subject to numerous environmental reviews and will be constructed in full conformance with all local and state agencies responsible for the protection of wetlands and public water supplies. In sum, Lynners can be assured that there will be no negative impact on the reservoir as a result of this project.

The other issue is the question of ownership of the parcel. The city’s Law Department has researched the real estate records extensively and determined that the parcel is, indeed, owned by the city. This is a big bonus as it minimizes the acquisition costs, keeping the overall project costs lower.

As a former Director of Community Development for the city for many years, I have dealt with many development consultants in neighborhood, downtown and waterfront developments.  

The consultant team we had when I served on the new Thurgood Marshall School Building Committee was as talented and impressive as any I’ve seen. And the results are manifested in a beautiful building that was completed ahead of schedule and under budget, providing a modern learning environment for the children in that district. We are fortunate to have members of that team working with us on the two new schools being proposed.

In viewing plans for new middle schools, our committee looked at 13 different sites in the city and, after much deliberation, chose the Parkland Avenue site and the McManus Field site as the best for the city. There are no sites that are even close in comparison after studying all the factors that come into play for site selection.

The state has told the city that it must plan for an additional 1,600 students in the next several years. The Massachusetts School Building Authority (MSBA) is willing to pay up to $100 million of the $188 million cost with the city’s share to be paid through a bond issue, subject to approval by the voters in the referendum on March 14th.

If the voters approve, there will be positive spin-offs as a result of the new schools. Real estate values will be improved. It is no secret that the first thing potential buyers ask realtors about is about is the quality of the school system. Impressive new teaching and learning facilities go a long way in putting a positive point on the fact that this is something Lynners care about.

Once a new Pickering Middle School is built with a 650-student capacity, it is very likely that Pine Hill would be put into the Pickering district, resulting in a shorter walk for students to a new and exciting facility. Also parts of the old Pickering School could be saved for a future expansion of the Sisson Elementary School and provide refurbished cafeteria, auditorium gymnasium and classroom space not available to them now.

The new West Lynn middle school housing 1,000 students would serve the surrounding neighborhoods so kids could walk to school and obviate the need for very expensive transportation to other schools in the city.

This new school would absorb more than 300 students from the presently overcrowded Breed Middle School, returning needed space for educational programming to that school.

The two new schools are tied together on the ballot on March 14th. An approval by the voters will avoid the need for double sessions at the middle school level in the near future. It will also take advantage of a $100 million investment by the state to give Lynn kids the same educational opportunities offered in more advantaged communities.

Make no mistake that if Lynn doesn’t take advantage of the state funding at this time it will be years, in my opinion, before we’ll have another opportunity like it. I urge Lynn voters to give a resounding approval on the two ballot questions on March 14th.

Do it for the kids and so we can look back after the projects are complete and know that we did the right thing for the city of Lynn.


Edward T. Calnan is a former Councillor-at-Large in Lynn.

Restaurant owner announces city council bid

ITEM PHOTO BY OWEN O’ROURKE
Taso Nikolakopoulos is the latest candidate for councilor-at-large.

By THOMAS GRILLO

LYNN Taso Nikolakopoulos is the latest candidate to throw his hat in the ring for an at-large seat on the City Council.

“I see a lot of disconnect between the council, the mayor’s office and the community,” said the 47-year-old owner of John’s Roast Beef & Seafood. “We need more of a collaborative effort and I really think I can change things.”

Married with two children, Nikolakopoulos said he will focus his campaign on a handful of issues that promise to advance the city.

“The key is economic growth,” he said.

First, the city must invest in a planning department, he said.  While other communities like Salem and Somerville have robust planning divisions that guide development, he said Lynn is lacking.

“When you call the city of Salem and tell them you plan to invest $2 million, you get someone who will guide you through the process,” she said. “Within a few steps, you know where you stand.”

On how the cash-strapped city would pay for a new department, he said, “I think we can find $300,000 in a $300 million budget.”

The other thing needed to spur growth, he said, is streamlined permitting.

“It still takes as much as four times longer to get permits in  Lynn than competing municipalities,” he said.

Figueroa for stronger community connections

Nikolakopoulos would also update the city’s plans for the Lynnway and add manufacturing to the mix of allowed uses on the non-waterside section of the busy road.

“My idea is to create a unique overlay district for manufacturing to bring in revenue,” he said.

On schools, he favors the controversial ballot question scheduled for March 14 to support construction of two new middle schools at a cost of $188.5 million.

“I am voting yes,” he said.

If approved, a 652-student school would be built near on Parkland Avenue and a second facility to serve 1,008 students would be constructed on Commercial Street. While parents in the Pickering Middle School district support the project, there’s opposition from many Pine Hill residents who oppose the new school on Pine Grove Cemetery land near Breeds Pond Reservoir.

Nikolakopoulos said he also favors teaching trades at Lynn English and Classical high schools.

“Teaching trade skills at Lynn Vocational Technical Institute is not enough,” he said. “We need to offer it at the other high schools. Not every family can afford a four-year college.”

On how to pay for expanded services, he suggested returning  parking meters to the downtown as a way to generate revenue.

Nikolakopoulos emigrated to the U.S. from Kalamata, Greece in the 1970s with his parents at age 4 during a time of political unrest in the southeast European nation.

He was enrolled in a Greek bilingual program at Washington Elementary School, attended St. Mary’s High School and later graduated from the College of St. Joseph’s, a small Catholic school in Vermont, where he was soccer captain.

After graduation, he worked a few jobs at the State House, including as a research analyst for the Joint Committee on Transportation. All the while, he helped his family at the restaurant.

“I’ve been working more than 70 hours a week since I was 22,” he said. “I don’t have free weekends, unless I go away.”

Nikolakopoulos joins what is expected to be a crowded field that includes incumbents Brian LaPierre, Buzzy Barton, Hong Net and Daniel Cahill. It’s unclear whether Cahill, who was elected as a state representative last year, will seek reelection.

In addition, Jaime Figueroa, a 28-year-old Suffolk University student, hopes to be the city’s first Latino councilor and Brian Field, who works at Solimine Funeral Homes, said he is considering a run.


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

Lynn ponders tax hike for two new schools

By THOMAS GRILLO

LYNN — Supporters are lining up on each side of what could be an expensive fight to approve a tax hike for two new schools.

So the state Office of Campaign and Political Finance (OCPF) is hosting a seminar this week on how the campaign finance law impacts ballot questions.

A special election will be held March 14 asking homeowners to pay an estimated $75 million, or $200 annually for the next 25 years on their tax bills for a pair of schools that would serve students in the Pickering Middle School district and West Lynn.

“We’re holding a workshop in Lynn because we have a sense that residents are very interested based on the calls we’ve received asking about the rules,” said Jason Tait, OCPF spokesman.

The one-hour session will be Wednesday at 6:30 p.m. in the Community Room at the Lynn Police Station. Residents on both sides of the issue are invited.

If approved, a 652-student school would be built near Breeds Pond Reservoir off Parkland Avenue and a second facility to serve 1,008 students would be constructed on McManus Field on Commercial Street. Likely to be in favor of the ballot question are the city’s elected officials and the Lynn Teachers Union. In addition, parents whose children attend the so-called feeder schools can be counted on for support, say political observers.

Pickering families who send their children to the Aborn, Shoemaker, Lynn Woods and Sisson elementary schools are likely to back the question while parents of children who attend Cobbet, Connery and Washington STEM elementary schools from West Lynn are expected to back a new school on their side of the city.                                              

Opposition has emerged from Pine Hill residents who are against building the new middle school near Breeds Pond Reservoir. They have organized Protect Our Reservoir – Preserve Pine Grove Community Group. They argue the land the city plans to use to build the school was intended for use as a cemetery. They say the city should find an alternative site and have threatened a lawsuit.

Tait said the seminar will be taught in two sections. One will focus on ballot question committees, the organizations that raise and spend money to support or oppose the question. The second part will review the ground rules for public employees, the use of public buildings and taxpayer funds.  

“We stress that public employees are prohibited from raising money for ballot questions,” Tait said. “Firefighters and  teachers, for example, are prohibited and no tax money can be used to pay for the campaign.”

Elected officials are free to solicit funds for the cause and they often promote fundraising for ballot questions, he said.  

The vote represents the first time Lynn residents have been asked to approve a tax hike in the city’s history.


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

Mayor and teachers in union for new schools

PHOTO BY BOB ROCHE
Mayor Judith Flanagan Kennedy explains how the school funding works. 

By BETHANY DOANE

LYNN — More than three dozen educators and parents gathered at the Knights of Pythias Tuesday night to support construction of a pair of middle schools.

The group, which calls itself  “Two Schools for Lynn,” is advocating a yes vote on next month’s ballot question. If approved, homeowners will pony up an estimated $75 million, or $200 annually for the next 25 years on their real estate tax bills. The two schools would serve students in the Pickering Middle School district and West Lynn.

“I spent 40 years in the Lynn schools and we owe it to Lynn teachers and school children to get this vote through,” said Bart Conlon, former director of Lynn Vocational Technical Institute.

Proponents say the $188 million project is needed to accommodate the growing enrollment and and modernize students’ educational experiences.

If approved, a 652-student school would be built near Breeds Pond Reservoir off Parkland Avenue and a second facility to serve 1,008 students would be constructed on McManus Field on Commercial Street. The Massachusetts School Building Authority, the quasi-independent state agency that funds school projects, would contribute about 60 percent or $113 million of the project’s total cost.

“We are already squeezing students into every possible classroom space,” said Mayor Judith Flanagan Kennedy, who also attended the session. “We need the space that the new schools would allow  and our students need modernity in their school experience.”

The new $67 million Thurgood Marshall Middle School, which opened last year, features natural light, air conditioning, a state-of-the-art security system, and other amenities that cater to middle school student’s needs, the mayor said.

“An address shouldn’t prevent a child from an equitable learning experience,” Kennedy said. “We must have schools in urban core, where all the largest number of middle school children live.”

If construction of two new middle schools fails to win voter approval, the city will go to the end of the line for state funding, she said.

Lynn’s schools are the fifth largest in the state, with more than 16,000 students. Student population has swelled by 17 percent in the past five years.

Mary Ann Duncan, a Lynn guidance counselor,  said overcrowding is becoming a major issue.

“We want to make sure we have a yes vote on March 14,” she said.

Still, the proposed construction has been controversial. Dozens of Pine Hill residents have expressed their opposition to the potential new middle school near Breeds Pond Reservoir, citing traffic concerns. They have threatened a lawsuit.

Home Depot nails down learning cafe


Thomas Grillo contributed to this report and can be reached at tgrillo@itemlive.com.

New schools would cost $200 per household

By THOMAS GRILLO

LYNN — The city council is set to put a question on the ballot in March that asks taxpayers to fund two new schools.

Voters will be asked to pony up an estimated $75 million, or $200 annually for the next 25 years on their tax bills for a pair of schools that would serve students in the Pickering Middle School district and West Lynn.

The school committee voted last week to request the council take the action. Under the city charter, the 11-member council is obligated to put the question on the ballot, according to James Lamanna, the city’s attorney. Voter consent is required for any bond in excess of $4 million. A special election is expected to be held Tuesday, March 14.

If approved, a 652-student school would be built near Breeds Pond Reservoir off Parkland Avenue and a second facility to serve 1,008 students would be constructed on McManus Field on Commercial Street.

Kane’s makes a tasty wager

Officials say the $188 million project is needed to accommodate the growing enrollment. Today, there are about 16,000 students in the Lynn Public Schools. But it has been increasing at a rate of 3 percent, or 500 new students annually, according to Mayor Judith Flanagan Kennedy.

“Enrollment continues to grow and we are out of space,” said Thomas Iarrobino, secretary of the Lynn School Committee.

“If voters reject the bond, we could be at a point where we were many years ago when we offered only a half-day kindergarten. Public schools are everyone’s right and everyone’s tax responsibility.”

The other factor in play is the contribution from the Massachusetts School Building Authority, the quasi-independent state agency that funds school projects. The department would contribute about 60 percent or $113 million of the project’s total cost. But if voters reject the bond authorization, the city stands to lose the state money.

The proposed construction has been controversial. Dozens of Pine Hill residents have expressed their opposition to the potential new middle school near Breeds Pond Reservoir citing traffic concerns. They have threatened a lawsuit.

But last month, the Pickering Middle School Building Committee reaffirmed its decision to locate the school off Parkland Avenue.


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

A new direction for the arts

ITEM PHOTO BY OWEN O’ROURKE
Carolyn Cole is the new director of the Lynn Cultural District.

By BILL BROTHERTON

LYNN — Carolyn Cole, who grew up in the Pine Hill section of the city, remembers elementary school field trips to the “shoe museum to make paper shoes.”

It started a love for the arts that continues to evolve. Cole is the new director of the Lynn Cultural District, having been promoted from her position of program manager. She succeeds Kate Luchini, who is devoting more time to her burgeoning jewelry business and other artistic endeavors.

The sweetest thing: U2 to play Gillette

Making those paper shoes unleashed a creativity that has stayed with Cole. As a youngster, she took acting classes in the LynnArts building, participated in the theater program at English and Bishop Fenwick high schools and got a scholarship to New England Conservatory, where she studied and trained. After earning a musical theater degree, she acted in Rhode Island, moved to New York City, got an office job on Wall Street and landed a few singing and acting gigs. She moved to Washington, D.C., in 2011 after winning the role of Tracy Turnblad in the Signature Theatre’s production of “Hairspray.”

“After about three years, I started really missing Lynn. I missed the community. So I moved back to my parents’ basement,” she said, then laughed. That was a little less than two years ago, and she’s been active in the arts community since returning. She took odd jobs, taught musical theater to school kids and gave voice lessons at School of Rock in the LynnArts building. She volunteered with Arts After Hours, Girls Inc. and other nonprofits. She met Emily Ruddock, the director when Lynn was first designated as a Cultural District, and got involved. She, Luchini and Drew Russo, executive director of the Lynn Museum, teamed as formidable leaders of the city’s growing arts coalition.

She’s come full circle.

“I love to meet people and I’m always asking how I can help,” said Cole. “I learned so much from Kate, and Drew and his staff have been so supportive. I am so happy to be here, to be home where so much is happening.

“I’ve met so many people who say ‘Nothing is going on in downtown Lynn. Where do I park? Where do I eat?’ Well, so much is going on in downtown Lynn. I tell them about six places to park, seven places to eat, places to shop, places to see art and music and black-box theater. This Lynn Museum is a gem. People who come here for the first time can’t believe how wonderful it is. The same with the LynnArts gallery,” she added. “There’s a lot of incredible talent in this city.”

A blazing goodbye to Christmas in Marblehead

In her new role, Cole will continue to work with the museum and LynnArts, reaching out to the community in a collaborative effort to get the word out about Lynn’s arts and culture scene.

“I’ve lived in New York and D.C.; I’ve traveled to many of America’s biggest cities … I’ve never been to a place as special and unique as Lynn,” said Cole. “I joke that I was born at Stop & Shop, in aisle seven,” she added, referencing Lynn Hospital, the former occupant of that parcel.

Cole and her husband of eight years, Michael Fogarty, an NCAA basketball official, are expecting their first child, a girl, next month. It was Michael who suggested they move to Lynn, and Carolyn was only too happy to accommodate him. “We met in Rhode Island, he followed me to New York and I took him around with me all these years and places,” she said, smiling. They have bought a house in the Euclid Avenue/Wyoma Square area.

“People ask ‘How are you going to run a Cultural District and raise a baby at the same time?’ That’s just what a woman does, isn’t it?” said Cole.

Russo said Cole is bright, creative and talented and he is looking forward to working with her in her new position. The two grew up in Lynn and took acting classes together.

“Carolyn has a tremendous work ethic. Everyone enjoys working with her. She loves theater and the arts and has been a successful singer, actor and teacher. We are so lucky to have her here in Lynn,” Russo said.

The Massachusetts Cultural Council believes a thriving creative sector is a powerful economic development asset. In support of this, the MCC’s Cultural Districts Initiative was authorized by the state legislature in 2010 and implemented in 2011. Lynn was approved as one of the first five Cultural Districts.

These cultural districts help local arts, humanities and science organizations improve the quality and range of their public programs so that more local families can benefit from them. They enhance the experience for visitors and thus attract more tourist dollars and tax revenue. And they attract artists, cultural organizations, restaurateurs  and entrepreneurs of all kinds, enhancing property values and making communities more attractive.

Lynn’s Cultural District designation expires in June, and a committee is now working toward renewing and expanding the program for another five years. A recent meeting at the Lynn Museum was led by Cole and attended by representatives from the arts community, the city of Lynn, the city of Peabody, Mass Development, The Lynn Area Chamber of Commerce, the Food Project, the Lynn Food and Fitness Alliance, the media and others.


Bill Brotherton can be reached at bbrotherton@itemlive.com.

Doris S. Sawyer, 82

LynnDoris S. Sawyer, lifelong resident of Lynn, passed away Sept. 15, 2016, at her home with her loving family by her side.

Doris was the daughter of the late Warren and Etta Foster, and George and Gertrude Crompton, and sister of the late Warren Foster, Donald Sawyer and Gloria Turner.

Born and raised on Pine Hill, she lived in Lynn her entire life and attended Lynn schools. She worked at General Electric in Wilmington, and later worked for Ametek.

She enjoyed her home. You would find her out raking leaves, watering the lawn or sitting on her front porch with her beloved neighbors.

She leaves her loving daughter, Diane Sawyer, grandson, Jason Berlan and his wife, Laurie, great-grandson, Zachary Berlan, all of Lynn, as well as, several nieces and nephews from Florida and Colorado, who she adored.

Service information: Her funeral will be held from the SOLIMINE FUNERAL HOME, 426 Broadway (Route 129) Lynn, on Tuesday at 9:30 a.m., followed by a funeral Mass at St. Mary’s Church, Lynn, at 10:30 a.m. Interment will be in St. Mary’s Cemetery, Lynn. Relatives and friends are respectfully invited. Visiting hours will be Monday from 4-8 p.m. Memorial donations may be made to Care Dimensions, 75 Sylvan St., Danvers, MA 01923. Directions and guest book at Solimine.com.

Aiven Cabral wins Lynn Little League Home Run Derby

PHOTO BY BOB ROCHE
Lynn Shore’s Aiven Cabral holds the winner’s trophy presented by Wyoma president Tony Luciano.

By MIKE ALONGI 

LYNN — In keeping with his great play in the Lynn City Series tournament, Lynn Shore’s Aiven Cabral brought out the big bat to win the Lynn Little League Home Run Derby under the lights at Reinfuss Field on Thursday night.

Cabral hit 10 home runs in the final round and 21 homers in total, edging out East Lynn’s Nolan Mulcahey by three homers, to win the trophy. He hit the clinching home run with over 30 seconds left in his round, leaving the final swings as a show for the fans.

There were seven contestants to start the Derby. Leading off the night was West Lynn’s Ethan Almandarez, who hit seven total homers. The highlight for him was his final shot, which reached a house past the left field fence. Following him was Damian Guadarrama from Lynn Shore. While he was only able to hit four home runs, he did a decent amount of damage outside the lines, putting dents in several cars.

Mulcahey was up next and whacked 11 homers, including a string of four in a row, to almost ensure himself a spot in the final round. He was followed by the only left-handed batter of the night, Pine Hill’s Willie Miller. Miller cracked four homers, as did the next batter, Wyoma’s Jesse Mags. Then, Cabral stepped in and hit 11 homers to give himself a chance at the final.

The final batter was Aaron O’Connor of Wyoma. O’Connor almost gave himself a shot to reach the final by hitting nine homers with three pitches to go, but he couldn’t get enough done in the final swings to sneak into the final.

Mulcahey went first in the final, hitting a few bombs right off the bat. After finishing with seven homers, Cabral stepped in and blasted his way to victory.

It wasn’t just a night to celebrate the best power hitters in Lynn though. It was also a night to honor the Lynn 15-year-old Babe Ruth All-Star team, which won the New England regional championship earlier this week and will be traveling to North Dakota to play in the Babe Ruth World Series. Each player was introduced with his name and the name of the Little League he previously played in.

Parents and friends gathered to watch as Lynn Mayor Judith Flanagan Kennedy presented each player with a certificate of accomplishment at home plate. Lynn Ward 2 Councilor Billy Trahant addressed the team after that, then Lynn native and Boston College women’s hockey goalie (and 2009 Derby champion) Katie Burt gave a pep talk to the players before the festivities got started.

All proceeds from all sales at the concession stand during the Derby went to help fund the Lynn 15s’ trip to North Dakota.

Bill shows Hillary’s softer side

BY DREW RUSSO

The last thing I expected to find when I joined the Massachusetts delegation for breakfast this morning was Bernie Sanders less than 10 feet away from where I enjoyed my sausage and eggs. After a long, celebratory evening that reveled in the nomination of the first woman nominee of a major political party for president of the U.S., his surprise visit came less than 18 hours after his groundbreaking run for the presidency ended. He exhorted all of us to ensure Hillary Clinton’s election and the defeat of Donald Trump in November. The convention reached a fever pitch of emotion the night before, when Vermont deferred during the roll call only to return at the end so that they could cast their votes for their native son, and turn the microphone over to him to do something extraordinary. He asked the convention chair to suspend the rules and nominate Hillary Clinton by acclamation, using his own superdelegate vote in the process. I can think of few more magnanimous signals for unity than that.

Former President Bill Clinton delivered the evening’s keynote. A highly personal, folksy telling of his life with Hillary Clinton that gave new perspective of her life’s journey. Democrats cannot win in the fall by attacking Donald Trump alone. There is a positive, uplifting story that can be told about our nominee. Who better than our country’s “Explainer-in-Chief” to show us how we can carry that compelling message forward.

The highlight of my evening was having the honor, or good fortune really, of standing alongside my friend Sen. Thomas McGee (D-Lynn) as he delivered the votes of our Massachusetts delegation.

There we were, two guys from Lynn and neighbors in Pine Hill who know the joys of hoisting a Guinness after finishing the St. Patrick’s Day Recovery Run at the Hibernian or a morning workout at the YMCA. On this night, we had the privilege of representing our fellow 6th district Democrats in casting our votes for the woman who should be the next president, Hillary Clinton.

What an amazing country we live in that affords two proud guys from Lynn the opportunity to do that.

Pitching on display in City Series

PHOTO BY BOB ROCHE
David Brown pitched excellent in the opening game of the City Series. 

By MIKE ALONGI

LYNN — The star of the night was Pine Hill pitcher David Brown, as he pitched a one-hit shutout through 5 2/3 innings to lift the Reds over the Wyoma Royals, 3-0, in the opening game of the Lynn City Series at Reinfuss Field Monday evening.

“David was unbelievable tonight” said Pine Hill coach Rich Avery. “I couldn’t ask for anything more from our ace, and then we added the hits when we needed to and got the win.”

Pine Hill was able to push a couple of runs across thanks to some timely hits and good baserunning, scoring the first two runs on Wyoma errors. Junell Leon added the third run on an RBI single to left field in the top of the sixth.

Brown dominated throughout the game. He struck out 15 batters, including 11 of the first 15 batters he faced. He was forced from the game with two outs in the bottom of the sixth after hitting the 85-pitch limit. Leon came in to record the final out with a strikeout.

“We ran into a really good pitcher tonight,” said Wyoma coach Jay Fraher. “I thought we played well defensively tonight, but we just couldn’t put the bat on the ball. And we’re usually a really good hitting team.”

Pine Hill will now move on to face West Lynn, which earned a bye, today at 5:30 p.m. at Reinfuss. Wyoma will face East Lynn at 7:30 p.m. with a chance to keep its season alive.

The dominant pitching continued into the second game of the night, as the Lynn Shore BravesAiven Cabral pitched 4 2/3 innings of shutout baseball with 13 strikeouts in a 7-2 victory over the East Lynn Brewers.

“Aiven was fantastic,” said Lynn Shore coach Paul Hartford. “He’s been as consistent as anyone all year, and he’s our best guy. He did everything we needed him to tonight.”

Although Cabral’s night ended early due to the 85-pitch limit, the great pitching didn’t end there. Damian Guadarrama followed with a solid inning of work before Yordy Contreras closed out the game.

Cabral and Contreras each added RBIs on the offensive side, while Guadarrama launched a two-run home run in the top of the fifth to put the game out of reach.

“We scrapped and fought throughout the whole game, but we just ran into a fantastic pitcher tonight,” said East Lynn coach Steve Archer. “Lynn Shore is a really good team and we have to take our hats off to them.”

East Lynn also put forth a solid pitching performance. After the starting pitcher struggled early, Anthony Mateo came in and pitched five innings and gave up three runs on four hits with 14 strikeouts.

On the offensive end, Nolan Mulcahey and Albanis Figueroa each contributed RBI hits.

Lynn Shore will now have a day off to wait before facing its next opponent, the winner of Pine Hill-West Lynn, on Wednesday at 5:30 p.m. East Lynn will play Wyoma tonight at 7:30 p.m.

Getting through the dog days of Summer

Many think that the phrase “dog days of summer” refers to weather so hot that dog lie around panting, but that’s not the case. 

By STEVE KRAUSE

Idle Chatter while getting through for the Dog Days of Summer (does anyone know the origin of that expression)?

Baseball, perhaps because it’s among our oldest sports, has some of the most arcane rules. And one of them came into play Tuesday night at an American Legion game between Lynn and the Swampscott-Marblehead combine team.

Lynn, behind 4-2 in the bottom of the seventh, was mounting a rally. A win would have propelled it forward in the district playoffs. A loss would have sent it home.

Andre Gaudet, with runners on base, hit a shot to right field that C.J. Howard reached over his shoulder and caught. Then, he fell down. Apparently. Somewhere between the time he fell down and rolled over, he transferred the ball from his glove to his throwing hand, and the ball came loose.

Lynn’s people though it was a drop. The umpires ruled that it was a catch, with the ball coming loose on the transfer. Guess whose ruling prevailed? On the field of play, with very few exceptions, the umpires have the same kind of authority as Roger Goodell, especially at this level, where there’s no one in New York with six video screens in front of him to issue a different ruling.

But for the record, here is the rule, as it was most recently modified two years ago by Major League Baseball: “An out has occurred whenever a player has complete control over the ball in his glove, and if he drops the ball after opening his glove, it will still be ruled an out. There is no requirement to successfully remove the ball from the glove for it to be an out.

“Also, if a player drops the ball while attempting to remove it from his glove in order to make a throw, the umpire will determine whether he had secured it in his glove before attempting the transfer. If the ball has been caught and controlled, it’s an out even if the player drops the ball in the process of transferring it.”

In other words, it’s strictly up to what the umpire saw. It comes down to his judgment.

While we’re on the subject, this would qualify as a judgment call, the same as out/safe, ball/strike, fair/foul. I often hear, at various fields, fans screaming to put the game under protest because an umpire made a bad call on the bases.

By rule, judgment calls are not protestable. Misapplication, or misinterpretation, of rules is.

–bullet–

Speaking of arcane rules, did you know there are 15 different ways to balk? If you’re not either an umpire or a devotee of the MLB rulebook (and if you’re that much of an adherent, what’s wrong with you?), there’s no way you’ll know them all.

There’s even a rule that applies to a poor pitcher who gets blown off the mound by a gust of wind. And that actually happened.

In 1961, Stu Miller of the San Francisco Giants, scrawny junkball pitcher extraordinaire, was pitching in Candlestick Park on an unusually gusty afternoon, even for that park, which was known for its funky wind currents. He had just gone into the stretch when the gust caught him. He wavered a few times before the gust caused him to stumble. He was still able to deliver the pitch, but the stumble altered his motion just enough for it to be balk.

Why? Because once you go into the stretch (the act of bringing your hands together and coming to a complete stop — and failure to do so before delivery is also a balk) and start your motion, nothing, not even a good wind gust, can alter it.

–bullet–

The question invariably comes up as to why Swampscott can have only one Little League in the town while other communities on the North Shore, such as Saugus, have to divide theirs in half or, in the case of Lynn, five ways.

Answer: Leagues are limited to 20,000 or fewer. Swampscott’s population is 13,800. As of six years ago, Saugus came in at 26,628.

But that’s not the whole story. If your community has a preponderance of elderly citizens among that population, or, in the case of a college town, a disproportionate number of non-eligible residents, or if there’s any other mitigating reason why your town shouldn’t be held to the population standard, you can petition for a waiver.

But that’s not even the whole story. Saugus might well decide it has a case to ask for a waiver, but then both Saugus American and Saugus National would have to agree to give up their charters and former a new organization with one charter. And problems often develop when leagues become proprietary over their charters.

Going around the district, Lynnfield checks in at 11,596 as of 2010 and Nahant 3,410. Peabody fields three All-Star teams come tournament time, which is in line with its population of 52,044 (as of 2013). Lynn came in at 91,589 in the same census and is split among West Lynn American, East Lynn, Pine Hill, Wyoma and Lynn Shore. It used to have six (West Lynn National lost its charter) and in its heyday, seven (Lynn Central being the other one).

There will always be lively debates over the fairness of it all, but those are the facts.

–bullet–

The common misconception is that the Dog Days of Summer refer to weather so oppressively hot that our canine friends lie around panting.

Not so, says National Geographic, which claims it’s because in ancient Rome, the star Sirius, which is is also known as the “dog star,” rises above the sun in late July, which coincides with the hottest time of the year in the Northern Hemisphere. Which is, of course, where Rome was, and still is.

Who knew?

 

Swampscott headed to District 16 final

PHOTO BY PAULA MULLER
Swampscott’s Harry Riddell, right, rounds third base and heads for home during a win over Nahant on Tuesday.

BY SCOT COOPER

LYNN — The Swampscott Little League all-stars were buoyed by a fast start Tuesday night at Pine Hill’s Chris Spagnoli Field.

Swampscott scored three runs in the first, and three more in the second on the way to knocking out Nahant, 8-4, to earn a trip back to Spagnoli Field Thursday for the district final against Peabody West (5:45).

Swampscott starter Matt McIntire survived through the first inning, allowing three singles, but stranding all three, giving his mates a clean slate against Nahant starter Billy Conigliaro.

Conigliaro made Swampscott’s Connor Correnti swing and miss at three curveballs. But Nate Marston, the No. 2 hitter, wasn’t fooled, and he put Conigliaro’s seventh offering among the spectators outside the center-field fence, and Swampscott was off, hitting and running.

McIntire followed Marston’s smash with a double, and then Conigliaro walked Dylan Dubiel.

Both runners moved up on a wild pitch. Nate DeRoche got the first of his three hits, and the first two of his three RBI, and it was 3-0 Swampscott after one.

Swampscott manager Steve Correnti said that Marston’s blast changed the game.

“He (Conigliaro) was really pitching well with the off-speed stuff, then Nate smacked one out, and that changed the game in our favor,” Correnti said. “He had to start throwing fastballs, and we are a very good fastball hitting team.”

Swampscott doubled its lead in the bottom of the second. One hit, two walks and two errors got Pierce Friedman, Correnti and Marston home and it was 6-0 after two.

The runs kept coming when Marston drove in Harry Riddell, who walked to start the third, and the lead was up to 7-0, halfway through the game.

Nahant finally busted through against McIntire with a run in the visitors’ half of the fourth. Jake Desmaris singled and scooted home on an opposite field base hit by Brian McKinnon.

Swampscott got its final run in the bottom of the fourth when Riddell singled in DeRoche, on board with a single, to up the score to 8-1.

Trying to mount a comeback, Aidan Graciale singled to start the Nahant fifth, and he walked in on a double by Conigliaro, who then went to third on the throw to the plate. He scored on a sacrifice fly by Drew Botta.

Colby Godwin, who is only 10, shut down Swampscott in the fifth, giving his team a chance for a miracle finish. Things started off well in the top of the sixth when Max Gadon greeted reliever Dalton Juden with a blast over the fence in right-center, making it 8-4. Juden shook that homer off and closed out the game, sending Swampscott into the final.

Correnti said he hopes his team can come out fast against Peabody West’s Chris Faraca, who no-hit them over 5 2/3  innings last week.

“Hopefully we can get on him early, make him work, get some hits, it’s up to us to have a good start,” Correnti said. “We’ve won three straight elimination games, we want to keep it going.”

Nahant manager Adolph Graciale said he was disappointed with the results Tuesday night, but not with the effort from his team in the Swampscott game, or in the entire tournament.

“It’s tough, we’re down right now, these kids will bounce back, you can’t get behind a good team early like we did tonight,” Graciale said. “The kids battled back, they played hard, we just dug too big a hole too early against a good Swampscott team.”

Should Swampscott solve Faraca Thursday, the “if necessary” game is Friday at a site to be determined.

Wyoma beats Pine Hill Little League to advance

PHOTO BY BOB ROCHE
Wyoma’s Aaron O’Connor, left, slides around Pine Hill catcher Danny Reddick with umpire Mark McCarron watching closely.

BY SCOT COOPER

PEABODY — Things started off just right for Wyoma for the third straight game. A homer by Anthony Marino got things rolling, and Wyoma eliminated Pine Hill, 8-3, Sunday afternoon at MacArthur Park in Peabody.

Just like he did in a 9-1 win over Winthrop Saturday, Marino went yard in the top of the first again Sunday, this time against Pine Hill’s James Ball. Steven Galatis had walked ahead of Marino, and it was 2-0 early for Wyoma starter Tyler Wilson.

Wilson breezed until the bottom of the third, when Pine Hill put a run up on the board. Junell Leon reached on a fielder’s choice, advanced on a passed ball, and scored on a Wyoma throwing error.

Wyoma put some distance between itself and Pine Hill, busting out for four runs in the top of the fifth. Ryan Crichton singled, and was lifted for pinch runner Tyler Duggan, who scored on wild pitch, and Christian Moran drove in Galatis and Aaron O’Connor with a hard single to right-center.

Leon got a couple back for Pine Hill in the bottom of the fifth when he banged a shot off the scoreboard outside the centerfield fence with David Brown aboard to make it a 6-3 game with one inning left.  

Wyoma added a couple of insurance runs for an 8-3 lead in the top of the sixth off of Willie Miller, who came in for Leon in the fifth.  Duggan, Galatis and Marino walked with one out, and Moran drove in another two runs, this time Duggan and Galatis, with a shot to right for the final two Wyoma runs.

Jack Anderson came on in the sixth, taking the ball from Wilson, who gave up just three hits, three runs and fanned six in his five innings of work.

Kyle Candelieri walked for Pine Hill in the sixth, but he was erased when Wyoma turned a nifty 5-4-3 double play to end the ballgame and improve to 4-1 in the tournament.

For Pine Hill manager Rich Avery, whose team finished 1-2, it’s tough to say goodbye to the players on his team.

“We fought back, we got it close, but we came up short,” Avery said. “These are great kids, they battled until the end, I’m going to miss them, and Pine Hill is going to miss them too.”

For winning manager Rick Anderson, the key was another fast start keyed by another Marino dinger early.

“It was good to get that lead early again, and good to get the leadoff guy on too, we’ll certainly take these fast starts,” Anderson said. “That’s how it’s been going, we have a fast start, and then a big inning, so hopefully we can keep that going into the next game, which is against Swampscott tonight (5:45) at East Lynn.

Botta lifts Nahant over Pine Hill

ITEM FILE PHOTO
Pine Hill’s Junell Leon had a double and pitched 1 2/3 innings in a loss to Nahant in the District 16 Little League tournament on Friday afternoon.

By MIKE ALONGI

PEABODY — It was a big night for Nahant’s Drew Botta, as he played well on both sides of the ball to help lead the Nahant Little League all-stars to a 3-1 win over Pine Hill in the District 16 tournament at MacArthur Park Friday.

Botta nearly tossed a complete game, pitching 5 2/3 innings and giving up one run on two hits with two walks and nine strikeouts. He also helped himself by knocking in what would turn out to be the winning run when he smacked a solo home run in the bottom of the third.

“What can you say, he was fantastic today,” Nahant coach Adolph Graciale said of Botta. “He came in and threw strikes all day, moved us through the game and then carried us on offense with that home run. He was huge today.”

Also contributing on offense for Nahant were Billy Conigliaro (1-for-4, RBI) and Sam Reenstierna (1-for-2, RBI).

Botta had a strong start to the game on the mound, retiring nine straight batters over the first three innings. He then stepped into the box in the bottom of the third and crushed a home run that hit off the top of the fence in centerfield and bounced over to make it 1-0.

After retiring the first batter in the top of the fourth, Pine Hill managed to get a rally going. Two walks and a single loaded up the bases with only one out for Pine Hill. But just as it looked like Botta was getting into some trouble, his defense stepped up behind him.

Pine Hill’s James Ball hit a hard grounder to Nahant’s Seamus Foley at first base. Instead of making the play at first, Foley had the presence of mind to fire the ball home to save the run. His throw beat the runner by inches to get the out at home, then catcher Jake Desmaris turned and fired to third base to catch another baserunner who strayed too far from the base, completing the rare 3-2-5 double play to end the inning and get out of the jam.

“You can’t ask for anything better than that play,” said Graciale. “You practice those situations all year and you hope they can execute it, and then they come through and get it done at a crucial point in the game. That was just great.”

Nahant took that momentum into the bottom of the fourth, getting runners to first and second with one out for Conigliaro, who came through with a line-drive RBI single up the middle to make it 2-0.

The same situation came up for Reenstierna in the bottom of the fifth, and he also came through with an RBI single to stretch the lead to three runs.

Botta retired the first two batters of the sixth inning and remained under his pitch count limit, allowing him to face one final batter for the complete game. Unfortunately for him, Pine Hill’s Junell Leon got the better of him with a double to left field and knocked him from the game.

Aiden Graciale came in to relieve Botta, but couldn’t keep the shutout intact. The next Pine Hill batter up was Danny Reddick, who smacked an RBI double to make it 3-1.

But before Pine Hill could really get the momentum on its side, Graciale struck out the next batter to end the game and seal the win.

“This was just a great all-around team win for us,” said Graciale. “I thought we played well defensively, we had timely hitting and we pitched well. Now we just have to continue this momentum going forward.”

Nahant will now move on to face Peabody West today at 5 p.m. Pine Hill will face the winner of Winthrop vs. Wyoma, which will be played this afternoon at 1 p.m.

Nahant bats explode in win

PHOTO BY ANNE MARIE TOBIN
Lynnfield’s Patrick D’Amico hits a home run against Nahant during a game at MacArthur Park on Friday.

By ANNE MARIE TOBIN

PEABODY — The Nahant 12-year-old all-stars sent 12 batters to the plate and exploded for eight runs in the fourth inning, then added four more in the fifth to defeat Lynnfield 14-3 at MacArthur Park.

Jake Desmarais had a big day batting in the nine slot, going 3-for-4 (double) with four RBI, while Nahant starter Drew Botta came within one batter of going the distance. He allowed two earned runs on seven hits with six strikeouts and did not walk a batter. He helped his cause with an RBI triple in the fourth inning.

“Drew was fantastic,” Nahant manager Adolph Graciale said. “He gave it a great effort and our veteran players stepped up tonight.”

Lynnfield starter Luke Martinho breezed through the first inning, needing only 11 pitches to retire the side. Aidan Burke, Martinho and Patrick D’Amico (RBI) opened the bottom of the inning with consecutive singles to take a 1-0 lead.  

In the second, Nahant took advantage of a Lynnfield error to tie the game, then took the lead on an RBI single by Desmarais.

Lynnfield regained the lead with solo runs in the second and third. Nick Boustris opened the second with a double and scored on Chase Carney’s double. In the third, D’Amico homered to center to give Lynnfield a 3-2 lead. Tommy Pascuccio followed with a long triple to right, but Botta got out of the inning with a strikeout.  

After that, Botta retired eight of the next nine batters to seal the win. Billy Conigliaro came on in the relief to retire the final batter of the game, thanks to third baseman Sam Reenstierna, who made a back-peddling catch on the grass to end the game.

“We threw it around and made some errors that cost us,” Lynnfield manager Tony Martinho said.  “We knew they were a tough, feisty team that wouldn’t quit. He (Botta) pounded the strike zone and I think he threw harder in the last three innings than the first three.”

Lynnfield must now fight its way through the losers’ bracket and will take on either West Lynn or Peabody Blue Thursday at Swampscott, while Nahant will play Pine Hill on Friday, July 8 (TBD).

 

Pine Hill Little League knocks off Peabody White

ITEM PHOTO BY OWEN O’ROURKE
Danny Reddick of Pine Hill enters the dugout pumped after scoring in the third inning against Peabody White on Wednesday.

By SCOT COOPER

SWAMPSCOTT — Pine Hill’s 12-year old Little League all-stars got six solid innings on the mound from David Brown, and his mates cranked out 10 hits in a 10-4 win over Peabody White in a District 16 tournament game.

It was the tournament opener for Pine Hill, which got the opening-round bye. Peabody White falls into the loser’s bracket in the double-elimination format, where it will play again after July 4.

Brown and Peabody’s Justin Powers cruised through the first two innings, then Pine Hill got rocking in the third, scoring four times, grabbing a lead it would not relinquish.

Peabody manager Justin Powers said his team needed to get Brown in a higher pitch count, because he got stronger as the innings went on.

“We helped him a little bit, I think, we swung at too many first pitches and didn’t work the count on him (Brown) very well, we need to fix that for the next game,” Powers said. “We also had a couple of misplays in the field that hurt us, and we left too many runners on base in most of the innings.”

The top of the order came up in the top of the third for Pine Hill. Brown walked to start the frame and moved up on a single by Junell Leon. Both runners advanced on a wild pitch, then scooted home on a single by Danny Reddick.

James Ball followed Reddick’s single with a hit of his own. Reddick scored on a wild pitch, and Willie Miller drove home Ball with the fourth single of the inning.

Pine Hill stayed with it the next inning as Reddick and Ball hit back-to-back homers over the right field fence. Pine Hill manager Rich Avery said those blasts really put a charge into his team.

“Those were the first homers of the season for both of those guys, they picked a great time to knock them out,” Avery said. “It gave us a big lift and David (Brown) was solid on the mound.”

Miller scored the third run of the inning when he came in on a wild pitch.

Peabody made it close in the bottom of the fifth, scoring all four of their runs. Jacob Palhares plated Jason Romans and Joey Raymond ahead of him when he drilled a three-run shot to center field. Brendan Smith reached on a single, went to third on a passed ball and scored the last Peabody run on a throwing error.

Pine Hill scored three in its half of the sixth, Kyle Candilieri scored on a single by Leon. Brown walked, and both runners scored on groundouts, before Peabody’s third pitcher of the game, Danny Barrett, got the last out.

Ball came on for Brown and set Peabody down. Ball ended the game with a great catch on the mound for the final out.

“I’m pleased with the effort, we did a great job tonight, it’s certainly nice to open up with a win,” Avery said.

Little league softball tourney set to begin

PHOTO BY ANN MARIE TOBIN
Lynn’s Sophia LeBert will look to be a key cog in the Wyoma softball team’s success in the upcoming District 16 tournament next week.

By NATALIE DURAZO

Last year was a successful one for the Wyoma Little League softball all-stars. They won the District 16 championship and made it all the way through the regionals before falling to eventual state runner-up Woburn.

Manager Jay Newhall hopes to duplicate that success this year, beginning Monday when the tournament begins with games in Saugus and Peabody.

There are six teams in this year’s tournament: Wyoma, a combine of East Lynn/West Lynn/Pine Hill, Saugus, Marblehead, Salem and Peabody. Among the towns not represented in District 16 is Swampscott.

According to tournament director Mike Pickering, Swampscott — which has won several district titles over the years — was not able to field a team.

The mainstay from last year’s Wyoma team, pitcher Abby Fila, is gone, “and she’s going to be difficult to replace,” Newhall said. He’s hoping Lily Newhall can pick up the slack.

“However,” he said, “we still have the bats we had last year. We’ve been practicing a lot, and as long as we get the girls in the right positions, we’ll have a chance.”

Newhall will count on the experience the likes of Riley Mannion, Sophia LeBert, Andrea Brazell, Keri Clougherty and Amanda Tobin can provide.

“I tell the girls the only way you can create good memories is to win,” he said, “so why not win and create very good memories.

“I think we should have a solid team,” he said. “We’re hitting the ball in practice. But you know how it is. They’re all kids. We have to go in hoping we keep the mistakes at a minimum and that we hit the ball.

The East Lynn combine will be at Saugus Monday (5:30 p.m.), while Salem will go to Peabody (5:45 p.m.). Wyoma and Marblehead drew the byes. Marblehead will host the East Lynn/Saugus winner Wednesday at 5:45 p.m., while the Salem/Peabody winner will travel to Wyoma Tuesday, also at 5:45 p.m.

East Lynn, under the direction of former Classical head varsity coach Chris Warren, brings back seven starters from last year’s team. Among them is his daughter, Brooke, who is slated to be the team’s No. 1 pitcher.

“She’s been working really hard to prepare for this tournament, practicing anytime she has,” Warren said.

In last year’s tournament, East Lynn was eliminated in a close loss to Saugus, and Warren says it is itching to get back and try again.

“The girls are practicing and working hard every day, yes we want to win because winning is always a good thing,” he said. “But all we can hope for is that they enjoy themselves too and that is what this tournament is really about.”

Saugus knows what it is in store for when it faces East Lynn.

“They were tough last year, and we expect them to be tough again this year,” said manager Steve Almquist.

Saugus is led by four returning players, including Leah Ventre, who will serve as the No. 1 pitcher after switching from shortstop last year. Kyra Jones, Madison Niles and Hannah O’Brien are the three others returning.

Inexperience will be a factor for Saugus this year, but Almquist has no doubt his girls will be prepared and ready to compete.

“The girls are excited, we are competitive, and we are fast so if we play smart we will do well,” he said.

Salem had an early exit last year, winning one and losing two, but is looking for better results this time around. It three returning players from the previous season, and manager Dana Hutchinson says the fun will be the challenge of working so many inexperienced players into the lineup.

“We feel like we are ready, and the girls are excited,” Hutchinson said.

Holland tourney facing challenges

By STEVE KRAUSE

 

Idle chatter while waiting for the other shoe to drop at Fenway Park.

— Lest there be any doubt, there will be a John G. Holland Memorial Softball Tournament at Breed’s Grace Rogato Field this year on Memorial Day weekend. But circumstances might force Lynn Babe Ruth, which has run the tournament for the last three years, to scale back some of the amenities.

The biggest problem now is money. Simply put, Babe Ruth lost a considerable amount of money running last year’s tournament, and its budget, like most of them, isn’t limitless.

This season, the miserable spring has made field upkeep difficult (read: expensive). Plus, the organization is no longer running a softball program, but is hosting a major state tournament for the baseball program later this summer.

This means it has pretty much exhausted its benefactors, some of whom have been kind enough to contribute multiple times to the organization’s different endeavors.

As a result, Babe Ruth is scurrying around to come up with sponsors who will help defray the cost of the four $500 scholarships awarded to seniors from each of the four competing schools (Classical, English, St. Mary’s and Swampscott). If nothing happens, Babe Ruth will run the tournaments but forego the scholarships. However, those of us who knew John Holland, and understood his commitment and passion for youth sports in Lynn during his life, would find that an awful shame.

Holland, who died in 1996, helped establish the Babe Ruth softball program and was instrumental, as a former president of the organization, for getting the facility at Breed built. He was equally active with Lynn Youth Soccer and with the parks and recreations program in general.

After he died of cancer at the age of 49, his family, with the cooperation of Babe Ruth and the Lynn schools, started the tournament. The Hollands bowed out of actively running the tournament three years ago, and Babe Ruth took it over.

Like the Nipper Clancy baseball tournament, it seems as if at least one team every season has to win at least one of the four Holland games (the two preliminaries, consolation and championship) to qualify for the state tournament. These are not merely exhibition games. They count both for qualifying and seeding purposes.

But like many of these tournaments, including the Agganis games next month, the accent is on the scholar as much as the athlete. Losing the scholarships is like losing an essential component of the tournament.

This is certainly not Babe Ruth’s fault. Over the years, Lynn Babe Ruth has gone above and beyond anyone’s expectations in keeping this tournament alive. Men such as John Kasian, Jim Beliveau, Dave Raymond and Jeff Earp work tirelessly not only in planning the games but making sure the field is playable — so much so that a few years ago, I nicknamed Earp “Picasso” because he spent so much time manicuring the field.

We can only hope that for the sake of all these men, we can somehow resurrect this tournament and put it back on solid footing.

Onto other matters

— Thanks should go out to the Wyoma Little League’s softball program, whose members spent so much time Friday getting the field at Lynn Woods ready for the St. Mary’s-Austin Prep softball game. The difference between Wyoma and Breed is like Fenway Park to PNC Park in Pittsburgh (judged the most pitcher-friendly ballpark in the Major Leagues). But in a way, that made the game memorable for the four kids who hit shots over the fence — including Frankie Simon, who hit a walkoff three-run homer down the left-field line.

— Now that John Farrell’s not in danger, at least at the moment, of getting fired, here’s what he should do with Clay Buchholz next time the enigmatic pitcher’s courage shrinks under the pressure of a few baserunners: keep him out there and make him get out of the jam. Then send him out the next inning, and the one after that, and make him pitch his way out of the messes he makes. Don’t rescue him. Even if it costs the Red Sox a game.

For all the noise about Bobby Valentine four years ago, perhaps his best managerial move was to keep Jon Lester out there to get pounded during a late-season game, when Lester was stomping all over the mound at every call that didn’t go his way.

The next year, Lester was Boston’s next-best player on the World Series-winning team, and he parlayed that experience into a lucrative contract with the Cubs.

— Finally, Charlie Gaeta’s sons played Little League baseball up in Pine Hill while I was on the board of directors. They continued at St. Mary’s. For someone with his influence and connections in the city, you never, ever heard from Charlie Gaeta about our coverage of his sons except when he said “thank you.”

May he recover completely and comfortably from the injuries he suffered when he was struck by a car last week.


Steve Krause can be reached at skrause@itemlive.com

A nice touch of Americana

By STEVE KRAUSE

 

Everywhere you look, baseball is losing traction as America’s pastime.

It no longer seems to be the top sport of choice among young people. Maybe this is because there’s too much standing around and not enough action. Perhaps it’s because Major League Baseball markets the most important component of the summer game — the World Series — by playing it on chilly autumn nights.

What was once a nice, crisp under-three-hour game now takes upwards of four hours, thanks in part to television, and thanks to pitchers who are afraid to throw the ball over the plate and hitters who are afraid to swing the bat. And let’s not even get into how many times batters step in and out of the box.

But bless baseball. It revels in its archaic reputation. It is steeped in tradition. Where other sports start their seasons simply by playing, baseball has extensively-staged ceremonies that harken back to a time when the sport was a celebration of new beginnings, both for itself and the American rhythm of life.

And that brings us to today. It is opening day for three of Lynn’s five Little Leagues, Pine Hill, Wyoma and West Lynn (the other two had theirs last week), as well as Saugus National. And just like the men they want to emulate, Little Leagues do it up right for their opening day. All the kids gather in their newly-distributed, nice, clean uniforms and their brand-new hats and they form a parade from a designated spot to their fields. Perhaps they’re escorted by a police cruiser, or a firetruck. Whatever, for that brief moment, on what is usually a chilly April morning, the streets, and our hearts, are theirs.

What defines Americana more than seeing eight-year-old kids whose uniforms look about six sizes too big, and whose hats are falling down over their eyes, and whose gloves look about as big on them as the brontosaurus steak Fred Flintstone got at the car hop?

Little Leagues take cues from the Major Leaguers in every way. The bunting is festooned all over the outfield fences, there are usually politicians there, and there’s bound to be a speech or two.

This proves to a difficult trick in Lynn, as two of the three leagues have scheduled their festivities for 9 a.m., with West Lynn’s at 10. The only other time city officials have to make such choices on where to go is on July 4, when just about every neighborhood has a horribles parade.

It’s also a day to revel in America, as every festivity will include the national anthem and/or a salute to the flag.

Finally, Little League opening day is a time to celebrate all that Little League was originally intended to be: kids getting together, having fun, and learning a little bit about a sport that was, when it was founded in 1939 in Williamsport, PA, an indelible part of American culture. The accent was on participating, coaching, and teaching by example.

These days, youth sports go year-round. There are just too many organizations whose aims seem to be to weed out the exceptional kids and focus on them. But to me, Little League is more about the kids who are in there learning, swinging the bat and striking out a few times and scuffing their feet in the dirt as they had back to the dugout, with their heads hanging, just like the big leaguers do. There will always be a place for the naturals. The rest of the kids need attention and validation too, and the good thing about Little League is that until the different communities select their all-star teams and play for a shot at the World Series, those other kids  get their chance to compete against the so-called elite and see how they stack up. The organization discourages “super teams.” This isn’t to see there aren’t any, but stacking them involves a tremendous amount of creative planning, and certainly not worth the effort of anyone save deranged parents who use Little League and other youth sports to compensate for failed childhood athletic endeavors.

So congratulations to all the small-sized kids with the large-sized unis; and to all the kids who have coerced their parents to go out and spend untold money on baseball cleats, batting gloves and other pieces of equipment that allow them, for the brief time they wear it, to imagine that they’re David Ortiz or Dustin Pedroia. Because that’s what it’s all about.

Sewell-Anderson reading for the fun of it

PHOTO BY PAULA MULLER
Jessica McLaughlin, public schools acting special education director, reads “It’s Not Easy Being a Bunny” by Marilyn Sadler as Trevyn Corea strains to see the pictures Thursday at Sewall-Anderson School in Lynn.

By THOR JOURGENSEN

LYNN — Sewell-Anderson School teachers read to their 278 students every weekday, but they made an extra special effort this week to link the Pine Hill school to reading celebrations across the country.

Kindergarten to second-grade teacher Lauren Helinski and her aides made floppy blue construction paper hats for their children to mimic “Thing One” and “Thing Two” — fictional creatures in the Dr. Seuss children’s classic “The Cat in the Hat.”

“They love it,” Helinski said as her students listened to public schools acting special education director Jessica McLaughlin read “It’s Not Easy Being a Bunny.”

In addition to reciting the alphabet and reading aloud to students, Sewell-Anderson Principal Mary Panagopoulos said teachers strive to bring literary characters to life. They decorated their classrooms and dressed in costumes on Wednesday to illustrate “Charlotte’s Web,” “101 Dalmatians” and other children’s classics.

School reading specialist Pamela Bannister dispatched teachers and guest readers to classrooms wearing a Charlotte costume made from black insulation tubing, a dish strainer and tulle meant to resemble cobwebs.

“It took me about four hours to assemble,” Bannister said.

Dina Lemmi dressed her third-, fourth- and fifth-graders in polka dots and dog ear hats to enjoy public schools special education administrator Stacey Pena’s reading of “101 Dalmatians.” Lemmi said she tries to surround her students with words, adorning her classroom walls with alphabet and spelling lists.

Once she finished reading, Pena recited a reading oath inscribed on a bookmark she handed out to students that included this reminder: “Every book I read puts smarts in my head.”

Sewell-Anderson was also treated this week to a pre-recorded online reading by U.S. Rep. Seth Moulton, who chose a Dr. Seuss book to read.


Thor Jourgensen can be reached at tjourgensen@itemlive.com.