Wyoma Square

Project Wheels Walk, Run & Roll 5K and Pancake Breakfast 2017

Event Date: Sunday, April 30, 2017 at 10 a.m.
Online registration ends: April 28, 2017 at Noon EST. Click here to register online. 

About Event:
The 3rd Annual Walk, Run, & Roll 5K is presented by The Project Wheels Foundation. All funds raised will be used to help individuals living with Freidreich’s ataxia (FA). The Project Wheels Foundation is a 501(c)(3) “pending” charities based out of Massachusetts that strives to help patients living with FA. FA is a debilitating, life-shortening, degenerative neuro-muscular disorder. About one in 50,000 people in the United States have Friedreich’s ataxia.

Mission Statement: Project Wheels strives to help and assist people living with FA in their attempt to live quality independent lives.

Race Date: April 30, 2017

Race Time: 10 a.m.

Location: Rolly’s Tavern on the Square, 338 Broadway, Lynn, Mass.

Race Fees: General Public, $30; Children under age 12, $15

Race Day Registration: Day of Race fee is $40 at Rolly’s Tavern on the Square

Pre-Race Packet Pickup: Saturday April 29th: 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
New England Running Company
43 Enon Street, Beverly, MA 01915
All participants who pickup on the 29th will be entered to win a free pair of running shoes compliments of New England Running Company!

Day of Race Registration & Packet Pickup:
Registration and Packet Pickup will be from 9 to 9:45 a.m. on race day at Rolly’s Tavern on the Square

Post Race Pancake Breakfast:
Preceding your run, walk or roll, we will have a wonderful all-you-can-eat pancake breakfast for participants to regain some of those lost calories. The breakfast is included for all participants and includes coffee and juice.

Please contact projectwheels2012@gmail.com if you would like to sponsor The Walk, Run & Roll!!

Lynn students draw the line on fire safety

ITEM PHOTO BY OWEN O’ROURKE
Student Leakhana Ngeth and art teacher Angeliki Russell react during the Lynn Fire Department safety recognition awards ceremony.

By BRIDGET TURCOTTE

LYNN — Lynn students are doing their part to extinguish a burning problem in the city.

The Lynn Fire Department and Lynn Public Schools collaborate annually to hold a poster contest with a fire safety theme. This year’s competition was focused on the importance of checking your fire alarms and changing them every decade.

Every year, far too many people are injured or killed as a result of a fire that could have been prevented, said Deputy Fire Chief Stephen Archer.

“Many of these injuries and deaths could have been prevented by having working smoke detectors,” he said.

Out of more than 5,000 entries, nine were declared contest winners; three elementary, three middle and three high school students. The three first-place posters have been transformed into billboards and are on display in Wyoma Square.

“The project is good because it gets (the kids) thinking about how important it is to make sure their smoke detectors are working,” said Sarah Gilberg, a Lynn English High School senior who took third place. “A fire can really destroy everything.”

Soleil Chea, a fourth-grader at Brickett Elementary School and second-place winner, said her interest in art grew when she was in the first grade and her favorite style is abstract.

“It’s pretty honoring to be on a billboard,” Chea said. “It was really fun. It’s important because if you don’t check your alarms it can be very dangerous.”

Lynnfield looks to limit marijuana sales

The competition is a continuation of a project first funded three years ago by a federal grant. More than $295,000 from the U.S. Fire Administration allowed firefighters to install about 5,000 smoke alarms in 1,700 homes

Earlier this year, Dean Foods, also known as Garelick Farms Lynn, made a $10,000 donation to further the initiative, which is spearheaded by Lt. Israel Gonzalez from the Fire Prevention Division.

The money funded the purchase and installation of about 100 alarms in the homes of Lynn Public School students. It also pays for firefighters to visit the children’s homes and talk to families about fire safety and prevention, cooking safety, electrical hazards and other common fire causes like candles and dryers.

The average two-family home should have seven detectors, and single-family homes should have three to four smoke detectors, he said. Many low-income households lack the devices all together, and others have alarms that have far exceeded their 10-year expected lifespan. Recent models have a built-in battery that can’t be changed out, to help ensure the devices are replaced often.

“I’m so pleased,” said Gonzalez. “We get to see so many entries. The fire prevention message is getting into students’ homes.”

State Fire Marshal Peter J. Ostroskey commended the fire department, public schools and Mayor Judith Flanagan Kennedys office for their collaboration on the project.

“To put forward such an important message is such a great thing,” Ostroskey said. “It’s a great thing for the students and it’s a great thing that they bring that message home and spread the word.”

Each of the nine winners were presented with a citation from the Fire Marshal’s office, another from the city and a new iPad.


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

STOP! It must be Halloween in Lynn

ITEM PHOTO BY OWEN O’ROURKE
Carl D’Entremont, who has been a crossing guard at the Sisson Elementary School in Lynn for 10 years, dressed as a superhero for Halloween this year.

By MICHELE DURGIN

LYNN — Sisson Elementary School crossing guard Carl D’Entremont knows how to do things right for Halloween.

The school’s community takes the October holiday seriously. Anyone who paid a visit to the Wyoma Square elementary school on Halloween Monday would have seen his or her fair share of pumpkins and goblins donning the doorways and windows of the neighborhood school. But visitors were also treated to countless cartoon characters and monsters roaming the halls, teaching a class and even working the crosswalk.

D’Entremont, 76, the 10-year veteran crossing guard on Conomo Avenue, was decked out in a superhero costume and passersby were enjoying every moment of watching him stop traffic and move the pedestrians along on the sunny October day.

“I love doing this for the kids,” he said. “Last year, I was Gumby, and in the past I’ve dressed up as Bozo the Clown,  the Cat in the Hat and a court jester. The parents give me the thumbs-up as they drive by and the kids clap and high-five me as I move them through the crosswalk. It’s fun and everyone leaves for the day with a smile.”

Councilor-at-Large Brian LaPierre was standing with a group of parents waiting for their children to be dismissed for the day. He, along with the other moms and dads, was happy to see the superhero crossing guard.

“He’s a good sport to do this,” said LaPierre. “Halloween is a lot of fun and Sisson School, along with the neighborhood, goes all out to celebrate and decorate for the kids. They’re a great group of folks, and it’s important to keep wonderful traditions like this alive for the next generation to enjoy and pass on to their own kids someday.”

Middle school offers a lesson in NIMBY

ITEM PHOTO BY OWEN O’ROURKE
Residents of 103 Parkland Ave. in Lynn are against building a new middle school in their back yard.

By GAYLA CAWLEY

LYNN — Residents will get a chance to sound off on the potential new middle school that would be built near Breeds Pond Reservoir off Parkland Avenue. A public forum will be held at 7 p.m. on Wednesday in the Pickering Middle School Auditorium..

The third public forum on the construction of two new middle schools will be hosted by the city, Lynn Public Schools and the Pickering Middle School Building Committee.

The forum will focus on the Breeds Pond Reservoir site, which Project Manager Lynn Stapleton said has provoked the most opposition from residents in prior sessions.

In October, the city’s School Building Committee approved the construction of two schools that would serve students in the Pickering Middle School district and West Lynn.

Under the $183 million proposal, 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 built on McManus Field on Commercial Street.

The fourth public forum, which will focus on the McManus Field site, will be held before Thanksgiving, Stapleton said.

Plans have been submitted to the Massachusetts School Building Authority (MSBA), the quasi-independent government that funds public schools. If approved, the agency would contribute $114.5 million towards the two schools, or 62.5 percent of the cost.

If approved by the MSBA and taxpayers, it would add $163 annually to the real estate tax bill for 25 years.

Stapleton said Wednesday’s forum will be about informing residents that the city is proceeding with the Reservoir and McManus sites.

“There is a great need for two schools because of the population and at this point, the city is willing to pay a significant share of the cost of two schools,” she said. “If we pass on this opportunity, the city is never going to be able to afford to pay for these two schools on their own. We’re really looking to find a compromise so we can take the benefit of the state paying the majority share of this, while attempting to minimize the impact on the city.”

Stapleton said studies are underway to look at the traffic on Parkland Avenue and Wyoma Square. Part of the studies will look at how to choose the correct school entrances and exits that will have the least effect on traffic.

Michael Donovan, the city’s Inspectional Services Department chief, who is also a member of the school building committee, acknowledged that there will be more traffic at the new school site.

“No matter where the school goes, there will be traffic impacts in the morning and the afternoon because we will be bringing 650 students in and out daily,” he said.

But he said the Parkland Avenue location near Breeds Pond Reservoir will have less impact than another proposed site on Magnolia Avenue because it’s near the Sisson Elementary School and the existing Pickering Middle School, which will likely be reused as an elementary school.

“Parkland Avenue is better suited to handle traffic than Magnolia Avenue,” Donovan said. “This small school won’t even be seen from Parkland Avenue or Lynnfield Street.”

A drawback to the Magnolia site is that there is a Massachusetts Water Resources Authority (MWRA) pipe located on the property that provides water to Swampscott and Marblehead. The pipe would have to be relocated, which city officials estimated would cost up to $800,000.

Another potential issue with the Parkland Avenue site comes from documents from 1893 the city’s law department recently became aware of suggesting the land belongs to Pine Grove Cemetery.

Brian Field, Lynn resident and funeral director at Solimine Funeral Homes, said he thought the proposed land for the Reservoir site would become an extension of Pine Grove Cemetery in the future. In the next 10 to 15 years, he said, Pine Grove is going to become full, leaving people to travel up to 15 miles away to bury their loved ones at a greater expense.

Field said in the city, there is still a large religious community that prefers a traditional burial.  

“The city obviously needs schools,” he said. “The issue I have with Parkland Avenue is the intended use was to be for a cemetery. It’s almost like they want the courts to decide.”


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

Thomas Grillo contributed to this report.

Not two bad

On Oct. 17, 2014, The Item turned a page.

By Bill Brotherton

People are always telling me to “Have a good one.” I’m not quite sure what that means. Have a good day? Have a good life? Have a good night’s sleep?

There’s a lot of good in my life these days. Near the top of the list, I recently rejoined The Item after 18 years at the Boston Herald, where I ran the Features desk and wrote about popular music. This is my second stint at The Item, where I learned the business from Red Hoffman, John Moran, Fred Goddard, the Gamage family and others in the 1980s and ’90s; and where I’ve worked side-by-side with some incredible journalists, including current News Editor Thor Jourgensen and Sports Editor Steve Krause.

I began my Item career with Ted Grant and Jim Wilson. Ted was a sports writer and now owns the place. Jim was a young photographer back then, and recently “retired” as deputy director of the photo department at the Pulitzer prize-winning Boston Globe. Today is his first day as chief operating officer of The Item.

Beth Bresnahan, a lifelong Lynner, is CEO of The Item and we consider her as the most significant hire of all. The impact she makes on a daily basis is remarkable.

Why would Bresnahan leave the high-profile job as executive director of the Massachusetts Lottery, the most successful in the country, to run this newspaper?

Why would Wilson leave the Globe to work at a paper with a daily circulation that’s about 230,000 less?

Why would I leave a job where I interviewed rock stars and reviewed hundreds of concerts? Why would anyone leave that job?

What gives? There’s no way a newspaper the size of The Item should have this pool of talent.

It’s because we want to reimagine newspapers. It’s why I’m here.

Today is a momentous day at The Item. Two years ago today, Ted (full name: Edward Michael Grant) and Essex Media Group (EMG: coincidence? I don’t think so) bought The Item from Hastings & Sons Publishing Co., which had owned the paper since 1877. Grant, the publisher, recruited six associates to invest in the operation and serve on its board of directors.

Each of the so-called EMG 7 has either a direct connection to the city or to the paper: Ed Cahill, who grew up on Cherry Street in Lynn, is a partner of HLM Venture Partners and is the son of Ed Cahill, the longest-serving sports editor in The Item’s history; John Gilberg has developed, owned and managed property in the Lynn area since 1989; Gordy Hall has run the Hall Company Inc, a real estate management firm, since forming it in 1981; Monica Connell Healey is a daughter of the legendary Bill Connell and wanted to “give back to the community that meant so much to my father”; Pat Norton, a lifelong Marblehead resident now retired, was managing director of PD-FAB LLC; and Mike Shanahan,who grew up in the Wyoma Square section of Lynn, is CFO of SevOne, a 450-member network software company. Shanahan is chairman of EMG. Shanahan, just out of Holy Cross, and Grant, just out of Boston College, met while both worked as sports writers at The Item; Shanahan covered high school hockey, and Grant covered high-school basketball.

The EMG 7 appreciate the history of The Item. Cahill spoke for the group when he said “We grab the wheel and initiate change. That’s what this group is about, to be a successful media company in the 21st century.”

Grant views it as “a 138-year-old start-up.”

“Our job,” he says, “is pretty straightforward: We’re to hold up a mirror to our communities. We’re to be neither positive nor negative, simply factual.”

The group undertook the most comprehensive survey of readers in the history of the paper, and learned that Item readers were more loyal to their paper than is the industry norm. We listen to our readers and respond accordingly. Grant cites a line from “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” by The Beatles: “With every mistake, we must surely be learning.”

“Do we get everything right?” Grant asks. “No, but we’ll keep working at it until we do.” He encourages readers to give feedback, good and bad particularly bad. “It’s the only way we’ll get it right,” he says.

When Grant walked into the old Item building on Exchange Street on Oct. 17, 2014 to address the staff, The Item was EMG’s sole asset. Today, EMG is one of the most ambitious, dynamic media companies in New England, maybe the country.

Throughout America, media companies are cutting back and slashing jobs. EMG is bucking the trend. It’s growing. In addition to the six-day-a-week Item, which covers eight cities and towns (Lynn, Lynnfield, Nahant, Marblehead, Peabody, Revere, Saugus, Swampscott), EMG also publishes the Peabody and Lynnfield Weekly News, a twice-monthly real estate guide and two quarterly glossy lifestyle magazines (01907 and ONE) that were started by Grant and his team. EMG has also developed an innovative mobile-first website and is about to relaunch the long-dormant, beloved North Shore Golf magazine.

And next month, Essex Media Group makes its boldest move yet, starting up an every-other-week Spanish-language newspaper, La Voz (The Voice), under the direction of Carolina Trujillo, a native of Colombia who most recently held a management position at Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts.

Trujillo is building relationships with the city’s Latino and business communities, with hopes that La Voz will evolve into a weekly newspaper. “I appreciate the trust and leadership of Beth and Ted. I feel really supported … and the response from the community has been overwhelmingly positive,” Trujillo says. The ambitious plan also includes a Web-based product, a strong social media presence and live daily news reports.

Starting tomorrow, The Item introduces Scene, with a Lifestyle-oriented focus that will report on the region’s burgeoning arts/culture and restaurant community, gradually beef up its Food, Look! and Real Estate pages and establish a weekly Travel section. The Scene pages will be my responsibility.

Jourgensen, The Item’s award-winning news editor, has been with the paper for more than 28 years. He’s never enjoyed his job more. … or worked harder. Every day is like the first sip of water when you’re thirsty, he says, adding that more than ever the stories The Item covers reflect residents and what they mean to the city. He is quick to praise the staff, from longtime Item staffers like Krause, Owen O’Rourke and Ryan York to veteran reporters like Thomas Grillo and Adam Swift and young reporters who have really developed, such as Gayla Cawley and Bridget Turcotte. Also, a Sports department with an abundance of promising young talent and the newest member of the Massachusetts Golf Hall of Fame, Anne Marie Tobin. Thor’s news meetings are fun; everyone on the staff participates and there’s lots of laughter. And he even breaks into song on occasion.

He is most excited about La Voz, which will give a voice to Lynn’s Spanish-speaking community. “I can’t overemphasize how important this is for Lynn. We are giving a voice to people who have an elemental role in this city, the middle class of the future,” says Jourgensen.

Krause, the Item’s second-longest-serving sports editor, has been with The Item since 1979. He said the March 2015 move from its longtime home at 38 Exchange St. to new space at 110 Munroe St. was significant, a new beginning.

Wilson grew up on Collins Terrace in East Lynn and still sees himself “as a Lynn kid in jeans and sneakers.” The opportunity to rejoin a paper that remains independently owned and share his experience with young journalists thrills him.

“Bill,” he said to me, “you and I went to the big-city papers to learn all we could … and now we’re back to help the next generation. I talked with Ted the day he bought it. I saw the risk that Beth took. I saw the risk that you took. That was enough for me. I wanted in.”

It’s like the band is getting together again. The Item’s mission statement is to inform, educate, provoke thought and prompt a smile in reflecting the communities we cover. Every staff member aims to do just that.

Thomas Wolfe said “You can’t go home again.” What a misguided fool! Tom Wolfe said “Put your good where it will do the most!” He was right. Peter Wolf said “I musta got lost, somewhere down the line.” The Woofa Goofa nailed it. I was lost; now I’ve re-found happiness at The Item.

It’s great to be home.

Utilities under scrutiny in Lynn

Lynn City Hall (Item file photo).

Elected to be city decision makers, even visionaries, city council members more often than not are saddled with routine tasks, including approving sign permits for new businesses, and giving utilities permission to attach equipment to poles located across the city.

A sign permit is no small matter to a new or established business owner hoping to attract new customers, and councilors always treat a business request with the importance it deserves.

Pole attachment requests, on the other hand, are largely routine affairs.

But councilors are becoming increasingly concerned with utility service locally and they are using routine requests by utilities to attach replacement or updated equipment to their poles as an opportunity to question service levels.

There are 10 pole attachment hearings scheduled on the council agenda today and eight more tabled from previous meetings, meaning councilors will have ample opportunity during the meeting to question service and ask questions about service failures, in particular last Wednesday’s power outage affecting Wyoma Square neighborhoods.

Complaints about the outage got Council President and state Rep. Dan Cahill’s attention. He wants explanations about maintenance or equipment replacement needs at the Quinn Road substation providing power to part of the city.

National Grid deserves credit for making strides to improve service reliability when it undertook renovations to its substation located off the Lynnway. Power disruptions in waterfront neighborhoods have dropped, although they have not disappeared. But Cahill and council colleagues want to see disruptions and power losses minimized or ended in other parts of the city.

A big part of being councilor involves fielding constituent calls from residents who don’t really care if utility oversight is strictly a local matter or a responsibility that falls more into the state’s domain.

Losing power frustrates people as much as deteriorating and unplowed streets and it does not take them long to find someone to blame for their frustrations.

Instead of making pole utility hearings a regular feature on the council agenda, it might make more sense for councilors to hold hearings every three months and combine pole utility requests with a detailed discussion on utility service.

These quarterly “checkups” could be well-publicized and councilors would attend them well armed with information on service disruptions. Utility representatives would get the opportunity to update councilors on quality of local service while outlining plans to improve service.

There is nothing routine about losing power and councilors can take more than a routine approach to ensuring utilities provide the best service to local customers.

Lynn poised to go upscale downtown

The historic flatiron building on Central Avenue will be home to an upscale pizzeria and cafe on the ground floor and 49 market-rate units on the upper six floors by 2017. (Item Photo by Owen O’Rourke)

By Bridget Turcotte

LYNN — Plans for the historic flatiron building on Central Avenue were unveiled on Friday.

As part of the $11 million investment, James Cowdell, executive director of Lynn Economic Development and Industrial Corp., said the ground floor will be transformed into two new businesses: an upscale pizzeria and a cafe.

The six upper floors will be used for residential space. Plans include 49 market-rate units.

Cowdell said Pie and Pint will offer about 25 craft beers and seating for 105 people. The coffee shop, called The Brew, will be comparable to a Starbucks with high-end coffee and free wifi.

“This is exactly what we want,” Cowdell said. “The first floor is going to be something that draws people into the downtown. And we’ll have people living in the downtown that have disposable income.”

The property was sold to Union One Thirty Eight, LLC, managed by John McGrail, for $2 million in 2014.

The project is expected to be completed by April of 2017, with residents moving in and the businesses opening their doors at that time, Cowdell said.

It fits with the revitalized city that Mayor Judith Flanagan Kennedy described in her address to the Lynn Area Chamber of Commerce on Friday morning. She said Lynn in a constant state of transformation.

From the recently completed work at Wyoma Square, which improved the northwestern gateway to the city, to the facelift for the Small Common, and the new Thurgood Marshall Middle School, she listed numerous improvements to infrastructure that were completed in the past year, and several that are in the works.

High-end eateries like Rossetti’s Restaurant, D’Amici’s Bakery and the Blue Ox reside in the same neighborhood. Bent Water Brewing Company has been so successful, it recently underwent a $2 million expansion, Kennedy said.

North Shore Community College has plans to open a free-standing book store on Broad Street, which the city currently lacks, she said.

“We have every reason to feel good about what we’ve done,” the mayor said. “Even more so for what’s to come.”


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

An Odyssey begun in Lynn

Bella diGrazia and Matt Demirs in their Lynn English 2014 senior prom photo.

BY DILLON DURST

LYNN — Bella diGrazia and Matt Demirs let it be known that they’re proud to be from Lynn.

The Lynn English High School graduates recently published articles on Odyssey, a content platform that discovers and shares millennial voices, about their North Shore home.

Demirs’ piece, “8 Reasons Why Lynn Massachusetts is Highly Underrated,” has been shared on Facebook more than 3,000 times, while diGrazia’s “Why Growing Up in Lynn Massachusetts Made Me Racially Colorblind” has more than 5,000 hits.

DiGrazia, a 20-year-old communications major at the University of Massachusetts Boston, said she felt inspired to write the article because of the recent racial animosity in America and she wanted her voice to be heard. She said the response has been amazing.

“People who are from Lynn and have been living here for 60 years were sharing their stories with me,” she said. “It’s sort of been a dream come true.”

In the story, diGrazia, who grew up on Beacon Hill Avenue, talks about being a second-grader at Hood Elementary School and being asked to write something she had in common with her classmates.

“While everyone seemed to be writing down the same basic ideas, such as parents, clothes, fingers, toes, etc .., I wrote down ‘We all have hearts,’” she said. “As the teacher read my answer aloud, she was blown away. All my classmates sitting next to me came up and hugged me.”

Her second grade teacher, Tammy Marini, left a comment on the online story, which said, “It was so special to read this article and know that my second grade class had some influence in how you see the world.”

On reconnecting with Marini after so many years, diGrazia said, “It meant the world.”

Demirs, 20, an English major at Lake Forest College in Illinois, said he was missing home when he wrote the article about Lynn being underrated. Living more than 16 hours from home, he said it was cool seeing so many people agree with his list of eight beautiful destinations in the city.

“When you’re gone for so long, you realize how much you miss home,” he said.

Demirs lists such places such as Lynn Beach, Lynn Memorial Auditorium and Wyoma Square as a few of the city’s most special sites. He thought it hit home for a lot of people, especially at a time when “a lot of bad things are happening,” he said.

Demirs doesn’t get home much these days, but when he does, he said his go-to spot in Lynn is Monte’s Restaurant.

“They have great pizza,” he said.


Dillon Durst can be reached at ddurst@itmelive.com.

Smoothing the road in Swampscott

ITEM PHOTO BY OWEN O’ROURKE
New paving will be installed on Humphrey Street in Swampscott beginning June 13 through June 30.

It will get worse before it gets better but there are several reasons to think Humphrey Street paving work slated to start on Monday will yield improvements for drivers, business owners and merchants and property owners along the busy street.

There is no question traffic lane and parking restrictions necessitated by the work will be a pain in the posterior through the end of June as reconstruction work takes place. Reconstructing a small side street is an inconvenient but tolerable experience. But repaving a major thoroughfare like Humphrey that serves as a commuter artery is going to be an experience demanding patience and positive attitudes from all concerned.

Humphrey sees steady small town foot traffic that intensifies in the summer months when walkers, joggers and restaurant-goers clog the sidewalks. Even moderate traffic can slow to a crawl as drivers turn off Humphrey or stop and parallel park.

Humphrey has seen its share of new building construction in recent years and it makes sense to match property improvements with an upgraded roadway. New street features will include sidewalk curb extensions designed to slow traffic.

At first glance, the sidewalk work seems to not make sense on a street already experiencing heavy traffic. But the extensions along with repainted crosswalks will enhance pedestrian safety once the road work is done.

With the Hadley School located a short distance off Humphrey, it makes sense to include pedestrian safety as one of the project’s intended improvements.

The Humphrey Street road project underscores the glaring need for more state money to be spent on Lynn area roads. Humphrey is the perfect example of a busy road doing triple duty as a commuter route, access road transitioning into a scenic parkway (Lynn Shore Drive) and as a neighborhood street that is home to local residents.

Other roads across Lynn, Revere, Saugus and other communities play similar multi-purpose transportation roles. But state commitments to spend money and map out project schedules for local roadways are maddeningly slow.

Building a new bridge across the Saugus River between Lynn and Saugus took years. Planning and construction on the Broadway-Wyoma Square-Lynnfield Street reconstruction is also stretching over a several-year time period.

It’s worth noting that Western Avenue in Lynn and Lynnfield Street are state-designated (routes 107 and 129) roadways that deserve elevated state attention and spending and completion commitments.

Repaving work on the Lynnway and Lynn’s inclusion in the North Shore scenic byway road network are positive improvements, but the region needs to see more projects like Humphrey Street get off the ground.

A shared sorrow

PHOTO BY ASSOCIATED PRESS
Firefighters examine the back of an apartment complex following a fatal fire Monday in Manchester, N.H.

Lynn Fire Chief James McDonald and fellow local firefighters know the struggle, frustration and sorrow Manchester, N.H., firefighters are enduring following the deaths of two adults and two children in a Monday fire.

They know what it is like to crawl through supercharged heat and blinding smoke to save lives even as fire guts a building. They know what it is like to see one body after another removed from a blackened building as investigators poke and probe through the rubble to determine a fire’s cause.

McDonald and all of Lynn’s firefighters know fires can be prevented. Deadly blazes that snuff out young lives are preventable. McDonald spearheaded a campaign in 2014 to encourage renters and homeowners to check smoke alarms to make sure they are working and replace faulty detectors.

Firefighters went into homes to help install alarms. The fire department helped sponsor poster contests in local schools and billboard companies plastered giant versions of the winning posters on signs in Wyoma Square and visible locations.

For all their efforts to stop deadly fires, McDonald and fellow chiefs along with state officials stood in front of Lynn fire headquarters in March and warned about an increase in the number of people killed in Massachusetts in the past year compared to previous years.

The chiefs reemphasized the lessons firefighters try to teach the average grade schooler: Check smoke detectors to make sure they work; plan a family fire escape route and be careful using extension cords and space heaters.

Advances in building construction combined with fire prevention education have reduced fire deaths but fires still kill, in part because broken detectors rob people of the precious seconds they need to escape a fire.

In an age when so many people communicate and function electronically with a few taps on a keypad, firefighters still do a job that thrusts them into danger and puts their lives at risk. They work physically dangerous jobs and witness human tragedy.

There are ways to make their jobs easier. Code enforcement efforts aimed at minimizing fire danger should be intensified. Buildings identified as fire risks due to construction or overcrowding should be the focus of multi-agency efforts to make the structures and their inhabitants safer.

Firefighters rightfully receive appreciation and praise for their efforts to save lives. But daily efforts to improve building safety can spare Lynn firefighters and the city a repeat of the Dec. 4, 2015 Bruce Place fire that killed four people and this week’s equally-deadly fire in Manchester.

Pair charged with kidnapping, assault, robbery

BY GAYLA CAWLEY

LYNN — A woman was kidnapped and assaulted by three men on Tuesday.

A 43-year-old Lynn woman was walking on Union Street at about 3:30 a.m. when a dark-colored Mercedes SUV pulled up beside her, with two men asking if she needed a ride. She got in, saying she needed a ride back to her home, near Goldfish Pond, Lynn Police Lt. Richard Donnelly said.

When she got in the car, the woman realized there was a third man. She noticed that they turned left on Chestnut Street towards Wyoma Square instead of making a right towards Goldfish Pond, and told them they were going the wrong way. She told police that the men started laughing at her, grabbing her arm and a $10 bill from her hand, while making fun of her, Donnelly said.

The woman asked the men to let her out, but they continued to drive and make fun of her. After a few minutes, the men threw her from the car at the intersection of Chestnut and Essex streets. One of the men, Kendrick Desormes, 19, of Salem, punched her in the side of the head and took her phone. All three men then jumped in the car and sped off, Donnelly said.

The car’s description was broadcast to police. After her ordeal, the woman came to the station to report the incident to police. As she was speaking, Salem Police reported having a suspect vehicle stopped matching the description. Lynn officers called Salem and asked if the woman’s stolen cell phone and purse were in the car. Police called the cell phone and it started ringing in the car and the purse also contained the woman’s identification, Donnelly said.

Two men were in the car stopped by Salem Police, Desormes and David Lucien, 43, of Salem. The third man was not there and hasn’t been found, and the incident is still under investigation, Donnelly said.

Desormes was arrested and charged with assault and battery, unarmed robbery and kidnapping. Lucien was arrested and charged with unarmed robbery and kidnapping. He also had pending warrant charges for motor vehicle violations.


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

Lynn states case for new middle schools

PHOTO BY BOB ROCHE
Gene Raymond of Raymond Designs explains the pros and cons of each potential site.

BY BRIDGET TURCOTTE

LYNN — The city is considering building two new schools to replace Pickering Middle School.

Architect Gene Raymond of Raymond Design Associates, Lynn Stapleton, the project manager, and city officials discussed options for the new facilities with residents Wednesday night.

Construction is expected to start next spring and take more than two years to complete.

Raymond and Stapleton worked on the $67 million Thurgood Marshall Middle School project.

This is the first in a series of public forums on building options and potential school locations.

The city is working with the Massachusetts School Building Authority, which has authorized construction of a facility equipped to hold up to 1,660 students.

Stapleton said the team is considering a two-school solution, with a total capacity of 1,600 students. The plan would alleviate overcrowding at Breed Middle School and prepare the city to educate an influx of students in coming years, she said.

Breed has 1,300 students and is designed to hold about 900, Stapleton said.

The larger capacity would accommodate about 1,000 more people in the district, and take students from Breed, Raymond said.

“One thousand, six hundred students would probably make it the largest middle school in the commonwealth,” he said. “Putting that all in one neighborhood in the city is really going to stress whatever neighborhood that is.”

Raymond also said that renovating the existing Pickering building would be “impossible and a tremendous waste of the city’s efforts and money.”

The designers are considering a dozen locations citywide, each with different permitting timelines and feasibility, he said.

Sites such as Gallagher Park and Magnolia Park were among contenders. But any open space taken for the project must be replaced elsewhere in the city, he said.

Union Hospital was considered. But the site was quickly rejected because of opposition to it’s closure, and Raymond described Barry Park as a “bathtub” during a storm.

Wetlands and traffic implications were also factors for many of the sites.

The team concluded that two “least impactful” sites are McManus Park and what they call a “reservoir site” on Parkland Avenue.

Flooding in the McManus Field neighborhood is ocean flooding, rather than rainfall, Raymond said.

Ward 6 Councilor Peter Capano said regardless of where the flooding comes from, it’s a problem in the neighborhood when it rains. He suggested developers coordinate with Lynn Water & Sewer Commission to resolve the problem before construction begins.

Resident Brian Field expressed concerns that the Parkland Avenue parcel is controlled by the Cemetery Commission and will need to be used for a cemetery expansion of the Pine Grove Cemetery within the next decade.

Michael Donovan, building commissioner, said city attorneys completed research to  determine the property is city-owned.

“These two are probably the most viable options,” Raymond said. “They’re both not jammed up against neighborhoods.”

He also had a plan for getting to each of the schools to avoid nearby Wyoma Square, which is often a bottleneck. Cars traveling from the north would follow Lynnfield Street to Averill Road. From the south, they would travel on Richardson Road, he said.

Those who hadn’t had the opportunity to see the new Marshall Middle School, got a first look through a slideshow presented by Superintendent Catherine Latham. The presentation highlighted aspects of Marshall that will be seen in the new school or schools.

Latham expects the new school will feature a cluster system, much like the one at Marshall. The children are separated into separate clusters of about 120 students. The clusters are color-coded and have all of the primary classes in one area of the building.

“We will be doing the same for Pickering,” she said.

The new school will also have the same electives offered at Marshall, including sewing, directing, and art classes, Latham said.

“These subjects make students want to go to school,” she said.

The next forum is scheduled for June 22.


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

Thomas McGee discusses 4.5-mile MBTA extension

ITEM PHOTO BY BETH BRESNAHAN
David Mohler, transportation department planning director, speaks at North Shore Community College.

By THOR JOURGENSEN

LYNN  State Sen. Thomas M. McGee said extending the Blue Line on the North Shore’s commuter rail lines could make Massachusetts a national model for smart transportation.

Speaking at a transportation spending hearing at North Shore Community College on Wednesday, McGee urged state officials to boost a $14.4 billion spending plan over five years to more than $20 billion.

He said making the Blue Line extension a priority “ties into economic opportunity” for Lynn and the North Shore.

“That project is imperative to the region,” he said.

Under discussion for years, the Blue Line extension project would extend the subway above ground by 4.5 miles from the Wonderland stop in Revere to Lynn.

McGee said connecting it to the nearby commuter rail track and operating Blue Line trains on the rail can be done with signaling upgrades and other minor changes.
The Lynn Business Partnership’s James Moore said the group has long advocated for the Blue Line expansion and plans to continue making the project a priority.

Daily Item CEO Beth Bresnahan said commuter rail service does not meet transit riders’ needs. She said expanding the Blue Line “will provide economic opportunities currently beyond our reach.”

State Rep. Brendan Crighton and Lynn City Council President Dan Cahill also spoke in favor of the expansion.

David Mohler, the state’s transportation department’s planning director, said state oversight boards will vote on a final capital investment plan on May 23.

Other proposed area projects including the $41 million Belden Bly Bridge replacement; $3.4 million to resurface Lynnfield Street from Wyoma Square to Great Woods Road and $15.4 million worth of Route 1 resurfacing work.


Thor Jourgensen can be reached at tjourgensen@itemlive.com

Gone fishing: Ippi’s Bait and Tackle closes

ITEM PHOTO BY OWEN O’ROURKE
Laura Ippoliti, owner of the recently closed Ippi’s Bait & Tackle Shop in Lynn, plans to paint over the shop’s logo on her pickup truck soon.

BY THOR JOURGENSEN 

LYNN — Laura Ippoliti still plans to cast a fishing line into Sluice Pond, but her days of selling rods and reels on Parkland Avenue have ended with the closing of Ippi’s Bait and Tackle.

Ippoliti operated the store on the edge of Wyoma Square since 2004. But she said competition from large retailers, the economic downturn and spikes in fuel prices drove her out of business.

“All my guys sold their boats,” she said.

A Franklin native, Ippoliti grew up fishing for bass and hornpout catfish with her siblings on ponds in southern Massachusetts. She worked 16 years as a traveling saleswoman for an industrial instrument maker before she grew weary of flying and took a job at a Peabody firm.

Her love for fishing helped start her own business and she branched out of Ippi’s by launching and helping to sponsor local fishing derbies, including the Lynn Fish and Game derby annually held on the last Saturday in April.

The contest is held on Sluice Pond and Ippoliti has also helped host Flax Pond derbies as a way to get children outside and entice them into briefly trading smart phones for fishing rods.

“It gets them off the couch,” she said.

Ippoliti has also helped improve Wyoma Square, said First Lutheran Church Rev. Jonathan Niketh, who noted that Ippoliti is a constant presence at the square’s annual July festival.

“She really wanted to be a positive neighborhood contributor,” Niketh said. “She struck me as someone who is always positive and just a good neighbor.”

Ippoliti credited family and friends for supporting and encouraging her during the years she operated Ippi’s. She said her wife, Dr. Nancy Balch, “kept my dream alive for so long.” She misses her customers and said equipment purchased at Ippi’s help catch some big fish, including a 76-pound cod.

“It was bigger than me,” she said.

She will be involved in local fishing derbies and looks forward to fishing in the Sluice Pond derby. She will also continue working with saltwater fishing boat owners to resist federal regulations she said are steadily shrinking ocean fishing grounds.

The passenger door on her pickup truck door reads, “Ippi’s Bait and Tackle,” but Ippoliti plans to paint over the logo soon.

“It’s sad to look at,” she said.


 

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

Times are tough for the smallest of small businesses

ITEM PHOTO BY OWEN O’ROURKE
Laura Ippoliti, owner of Ippi’s Bait and Tackle shop in Lynn, stands in her now empty store.

Here’s hoping the days of sole proprietorship are not headed the way of the phone booth or the cassette tape. Lynn and surrounding communities have their share of one-man and one-woman businesses, but major forces at work in the economy are not making it easy for the smallest of small businesses to stay afloat.

Appliance store owner Richard Covert survives in Wyoma Square by drawing loyal customers to a store that hearkens back to the days when most Americans bought appliances and all other goods from small businesses.

But across the square on Parkland Avenue, Ippi’s Bait and Tackle is an empty shell, silently bearing witness to the Internet and the box store’s ability to attract customers who once visited a small shop like the one Laura Ippoliti ran, and where they could talk fishing while they looked over reels or checked out waders and hooks.

Ron Trapasso is perhaps the classic example of a one-man shop with his Essex Street store full of antiques in various stages of repair and constructions. Trapasso’s Atwill Furniture proudly carries on the legacy of since-deceased local cabinet makers and crafters, and supplements furniture construction with antique repairs.

He admits he faces a challenge finding young apprentices interested in carrying on his trade but isn’t ready to speculate on when he might build his last chair. Covert has yet to sell his last washing machine but his commitment to personal service is a big reason why customers still walk into his store.

The local pharmacy industry has seen the biggest local decline in the smallest of small businesses with pharmacists who survived for decades shifting their prescription clientele to chain pharmacies.

Customers get the benefit of modern medication-filling services but a little bit of the personal touch is lost in the process. The responsibility for keeping small businesses afloat ultimately lies with the customer, and the consumer is responsible for frequenting small businesses and helping them to survive.

Dick Covert and Ron Trapasso will eventually retire but here’s hoping the next generation of solo entrepreneurs is ready to follow in their footsteps.

Urgency is engine fast-tracking plans for new Pickering

Don’t blink now because city officials have pulled out all of the stops to get a new Pickering Middle School designed and built.

The process is a couple of years away from completion, but the local urgency is well-founded because the stakes could not be higher for the Lynn public schools and local students and their parents when it comes to getting a new middle school built.

A visit to the existing Pickering, outside Wyoma Square, triggers competing emotions of pride and shame. The sense of pride is rooted in seeing students, teachers and other school employees shoulder the task of education in a building constructed before World War I ended. The feeling of shame comes from seeing the same people learning and teaching in water-stained classrooms and hallways long past showing their age.

Like a big rock tossed into a calm pond, a new Pickering’s construction will send ripples across the Lynn public schools. With an enrollment pegged at 1,660 students by state school building officials, a new Pickering will be substantially bigger than the almost-completed Marshall Middle School.

Like Marshall, a brand-new Pickering is an opportunity to consign aging albatrosses to the history books and shove middle school education in Lynn firmly into the 21st century. Both schools will have state-of-the-art technology. They will be organized around teaching students using the latest education methods.

Middle school is an unprecedented time of growth in a student’s life from a social standpoint and  physical and intellectual development perspective. Middle school students say goodbye to the safe harbor of elementary school and grasp the tools and opportunities that give them a chance to define, for the first time in their young lives, their futures.

Rundown schools — even ones with great teachers — cloud that view beyond the horizon of adolescence. School Superintendent Catherine Latham has eloquently and clearly stated that it is important for local middle schools to give Lynn students reasons to come to school. Those reasons start in the classroom but they extend into elective and extracurricular activities.

Brand-new schools are the best places to influence and inspire young minds. With that thought firmly grasped, let’s hope the momentum behind building a new Pickering does not slacken.