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2011: News Digest

He grew up loving the Bruins but now they are the enemy

Cory Schneider is a Marbleheader. All Marbleheaders are Bruins fans. That’s a given. But as the Vancouver Canucks’ goalie, he will do everything he can to send the Bruins home in defeat over the next week or so as they enter the playoffs for the Stanley cup.

Schneider went through the Marblehead Schools and everyone either knows him or remembers him. Coming to the Garden still excites him, but now he’s on the wrong side of the rink.

He was selected in the first round by the Canucks of the 2004 NHL draft. He played  for three years with the Boston College Eagles. In his first full year with the Canucks, he won the William M. Jennings Trophy for the league’s best “goals against average” in the NHL.

His parents, Susan and Richard Schneider live in Marblehead, and supported their son throughout his years in Marblehead Youth Hockey, starting around the age of six. He graduated from Phillips Academy. During his college years at Boston College he was named twice to the Hockey East All-Academic Team, honoring student-athletes.

Cory was inducted into the Marblehead Hockey Hall of Fame in 2008. He is the only Marblehead natice to be drafted into the NHL.

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Marblehead superintendent the highest paid around.

According to a report in the Salem News today, there are 277 districts in the Commonwealth and 62 of them are looking for a superintendent. Last year there were 64 vacancies. The number of vacancies per year has essentially doubled since the 25 to 30 each year prior to 2009.

Marblehead just filled its vacancy. And, our super is the highest paid in a seven town comparison:


On July 1, 2009 a new law went into effect stating that only the salary of a superintendent would be considered in the determination of his or her pension. Previously, everything was considered: insurance cash values, unpaid time off and annuities, among other things. If a super signs a new contract with the salary-only component it effects everything. So, most are opting to retire. In some cases, the option is to continue working for less than the pension would be. There’s a law that is pennywise and pound foolish it would appear. But we bet it looked good on paper.

The mountains of paperwork, overload of government regulations, hundreds of reporting deadlines, standardized testing up to the ceiling, and overall stress from all directions has made the superintendent’s job… well not so super.

But in Marblehead, at least, the pay is good.

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Tea Party Table Gets Cold Reception

It wasn’t something you see in Marblehead every day. A poster of President Obama with a Hitler mustache draped over a folding table on the sidewalk at the post office. Then there was the “Restore Glass Steagall” sign with a picture of a smiling Franklin Delano Roosevelt. For those of you who don’t know, Glass Steagall was a law, actually called The Banking Act of 1933, known by its sponsors, Carter Glass (D, VA)  and Henry B. Steagall (D, AL) , that basically established the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation and which attempted to control speculation. This 1933 Glass-Steagall bill was actually the second Glass-Steagall bill. The first was passed in 1932, a fairly technical bill written to stop deflation. The 1933 bill restricted banks from crossing over: a commercial bank couldn’t become an investment bank, and vica versa. It was a reaction to the collapse of American commercial banking in early 1933. The Glass-Steagall bill was following in spring of 1933 by Executive Order 6102, or The Gold Confiscation Act that effectively ended the gold standard for American currency.

The young woman, a follower of Lyndon LaRouche, would not give her name to a reporter and made a sort of obscene disparaging remark to him (“you s!#k). She apparently believes that by restoring the Glass-Steagall bill, and its standards, of separating commercial banking from investment banking all will be right in the American economy again. Lyndon LaRouche sees the corruption of banks as the corruption of our economic system. He basically wants to apply the Glass-Steagall standards to all current banking operations, “protecting” the assets that comply with those standards, and “freezing” the assets that do not “comply” under federal or state bankruptcy laws.

Not exactly a one-line revolutionary slogan, to say the least.

But why the Obama-Hitler poster? It has been linked to Rush Limbuagh and to the “death panel” protestors. And, of course there was the snake-broken-into-eight-pieces symbol which is tied to the Tea Party. That symbol was on the literature they were handing out. The handouts also had a letter from Congresswoman, Marcy Kaptur (D, OH), calling for support of the bill to reinstate Glass-Steagall. The bill is currently before Congress with no change of passing.

So, the Tea Party came to Marblehead with horrible posters and creating a lot of unhappiness at the post office. While our reporter was there at least eight people came up to the table and the two protestors there and verbally engaged them. There was no show of support whatever from Marbleheaders walking, riding bicycles, driving or dog-walking that day while we were there. It was obvious that even if Marbleheaders did not support President Obama, they did not like the very offensive posters or the whole setup on the sidewalk.

It caused a commotion, but from the expressions on the faces of the two “protesters” –  if that’s the right word –they were fishing in the wrong waters there on Smith Street, and most certainly with the wrong bait.

People “pulled over,” okay, but more to stop this eye sore of dark-side posters and the sloppy protest table on the first nice day in two months.

We did notice a Dunkin’ Donuts coffee cup under the table, along with a empty, crumpled bag, presumably formerly holding donuts, now consumed. So, even in this odd set-up with its disturbing and confusing messages and images, they did bring coffee and donuts to the office. So it wasn’t all bad. Sort of.

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Town leaders seem blasé over overrides

With $44,824,000 million on the line, you would think the leaders of the Town might be getting out there and enthusiastically helping the voters see what’s at stake.But they seem a little blasé. In just 22 days voters will decide on four major overrides:

  1. Old Town House Handi-capable access: $668,000
  2. Monitor contamination at the landfill: $656,000
  3. Cap the landfill and build a new solid waste buidling: $18.1 million
  4. New Glover Eveleth School: $25.4 million

The opponents of the overrides are busy as all-get-out. They already started with a vengance at least a week ago with a four page e-mail sent by “Marblehead Citizens for Fiscal Responsibility.” They called the override for capping the landfill a “scare tactic” when it was stated that the state would fine Marblehead if it doesn’t pass, according to the Lynn Item.

Last year, opponents defeated all ten overrides on the ballot. The current six ballot questions are all second-pass attempts by the town to ask voters to pass them again, with some changes.

More to come… that’s for sure.

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The Old YMCA property… what’s happening?

Thelot where the new National Grand Bank landscaped parking lot will be constructed. Photo by Bill Purdin

by Katie Freedman

Marbleheaders’, rest assured that the old YMCA land will uphold the charm of our quaint New England seaside town. After talking with James Nye, President of National Grand Bank of Marblehead, the current plans for a new bank parking lot in place of the old YMCA building include green space and architectural features to enhance the surrounding area.

A stone sign from the old Y. Photo by Katie Freedman

The land was purchased by the bank in late March to the relief of many who opposed a large condominium complex that would have obscured the historic luster of mid-town Marblehead. According to Mr. Nye, the land is set to become a, “Park/parking lot, with 70 percent of the land set aside for parking spaces and 30 percent of the land reserved for an esthetically pleasing green space including trees and low shrubs.” The new lot is scheduled to be employee and customer parking which will free up their existing parking as well as street parking for Marblehead residents and local businesses.

The current plans, which are not yet final, show approximately 25 to 28 parking spaces (including two handi-capable parking spaces) in the center of the lot surrounded by a generous border of trees and shrubs. The plans call for the entrance and exit to be on Essex Street. Mr. Nye explained, “Pleasant Street is proposed to be lined with wrought iron and brick pillar fencing to be tied in with the wrought iron from the existing lot. This will visually link the new parking spaces to the National Grand Bank, as well as keep a sense of cohesion to the area.”

Plans to have an entrance from Pleasant Street were reconfigured due in part to preserving the large tree in front of the property and also to eliminate a cut through from Essex Street to Pleasant Street during high traffic times such as school pick up and drop off.

The National Grand Bank, from the Mortgage Department entrance. Photo by Katie Freedman

The National Grand Bank has contacted the Marblehead Recreation and Parks department to request a pedestrian access to and from the adjacent Memorial Park. This entrance would include clearing out some of the overgrown shrubbery that was once used as a screen between Memorial Park and the old YMCA building.

Mr. Nye reiterated that the bank is devoted to extending every consideration to the Town of Marblehead and the bank’s neighbors. In keeping with this, they plan to incorporate an expansion of the small lane between the neighboring building (102 Pleasant Street) and the new bank parking lot. 

Additionally, the National Grand Bank is also allotting space in the corner of the property for a ground-level transformer. This will allow the light department to remove the unsightly transformers from the telephone poles along that stretch of Pleasant Street.

At one point, as he walked along Pleasant Street during this interview, without missing a step, he stooped down and picked up discarded drink container on the sidewalk dropped it into a trash barrel. It seemed in his affection for the Town there is no place for litter. During the short time that we were on the sidewalk many passing cars honked and drivers waved to say hello to the bank President. Passersby all seemed to know him. It was clear that Jim Nye loves Marblehead, and the feeling is mutual.

Although the contractor has not been chosen yet, Mr. Nye did say that the project would definitely go to a Marblehead company. The project is scheduled to be completed by the end of summer or earlier. He also mentioned that he will release the final plans for construction to Marblehead, and other media, as soon as they are ready.

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Lederman wants a new look at Code of Ethics

He’s been trying for years. But the School routinely approved the old code, no changes. The School Committee, repleat with new member Thomas Connolly, this year voted to postpone action until after their annual “retreat.” Our maybe this year it should be called their annual “advance.” The code restricts members from “binding the committee to a specific action outside of meetings,”  “making promises about how they will vote on matters that will come before the committee,” and “making decisions without hearing and discussing all the facts.” [Lynn Item] Lederman is reported as stating his reason for wanting the Ethics Code rewritten as: “My intent is yo act with total honesty, integrity, and ethics.” But by a different code, apparently. Connolly felt that on first look these components were unusual “for limiting free speech.” Nohelty who has disagreed with Lederman in the past noted that now there were two members expression interest in a review. He said the committee should discuss it at the “retreat,” apparently out of camera view.

In other actions the committee reelected EuRim Chun as Chairman, Jonathan Lederman as Vice Chair and elected Dick Nohelty as Secretary. All votes for officers were unanimous.

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June 14 Override Ready for Election

Here it comes, the June 14 override election in which Marblehead voters will decide on the four questions totalling $44,824,000 and adding 75¢ to the tax rate ($10.21 to $10.96 (in 2011) and $364.40 to the median home value  ($438,000) tax bill.

  1. Old Town House Handi-capable access: $668,000
  2. Monitor contamination at the landfill: $656,000
  3. Cap the landfill and build a new solid waste buidling: $18.1 million
  4. New Glover Eveleth School: $25.4 million

Here are some more tax stats: click for a larger view …

Here is the ballot “specimen” for your edification: Click for a larger view …

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Tyler Hamilton confesses on 60 Minutes

Tyler with his Olympic Gold medal in 2004

A copy of Marblehead Magazine signed by Tyler Hamilton in 2003 with a broken collar bone on the day after his accident in the Tour de France.

The hometown hero who had a Marblehead day named after him, who at one point marquised on the Town’s entering sign with “The Home of Tyler Hamilton,” and who town’s people and officials nearly swooned over in ceremonies after he “won”  the 2004 Olympic Gold Medal, has fallen off his high horse, or we should say, his bike.

Appearing on CBS’ 60 minutes, Tyler’s statements were previewed in the press and on the Evening News with Katie Couric. He says he personally “doped” with Lance Armstrong and saw Armstrong use performance enhancing drugs in 1999 and two other sessions in preparation for the Tour de France.

His comments, the same as his testimony before a grand jury, indicated that doping was common and essential if a cycylist wanted to be included in the elites. In Tyler’s eyes on television it was obvious that he is full of regret and sorrow over this situation, but he said that if he had chosen not to use performance-enhancing drugs the team sponsors and leaders would have just turned to the next cyclist in the pecking order and all of the years of effort, his life’s purpose, would have been for nothing. Tyler has been granted limited immunity from prosecution: if it turns out he is lying the full weight of the law will be used to bring him to justice. But there was no visual evidence of that in his appearance on 60 Minutes. But the implications of his testimony bring into question the validity of the seven Tour de France victories of Lance Armstrong, and in turn, it brings the integrity of international cycling into question as well.

A close up of the 2004 Olympic Gold Medal.

Armstrong denies the allegations. Tyler has turned in his Gold Medal. Marblehead has long-since changed its sign.







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I gotta say, I love this town and its people…

Viewing the good ship, Lynx, at Fort Sewall
Text and video by Katie Freedman, photos by Bill Purdin

Lynx docked in Marblehead on a foggy afternoon.

Brand new to the town of Marblehead, I was unaware of today’s grand arrival of the Lynx sailing ship until preschool pickup at 2:00pm. Luckily for me, I overheard the other mothers buzzing about its scheduled arrival full of pomp and circumstance to include cannons blasting and bagpipers playing throughout its cruise into Marblehead Harbor. I didn’t waste one minute in deciding to find Fort Sewall and go watch this historic event. With a little help from Google, I located Fort Sewall and decided that it might be best to walk, as I am still unfamiliar with the streets here and had no idea where to park.

So, I packed the jogging stroller with my two little girls, snacks, juice boxes, and blankets. I covered them in the rain bubble and started my journey across town. A little over a mile and few raindrops later, I came upon another family hastily walking towards the water. As we approached the Landing Restaurant on Front Street there was an electricity in the air as more people filled the sidewalks. I was definitely not alone on my journey to Fort Sewall. Walking past the Barnacle Restaurant I noticed the street lined with the empty cars of the Marblehead locals who were eager to get a glimpse of the ship. The grey skies were bright but the smiles encountered along the route showed nothing of concern for the overcast weather.

Bow on view of the Lynx.

As I approached the Fort there were a large number of people congregated near a pop up tent along the fence. My jogging stroller didn’t allow me to get up the steep stairs so I never saw what was there. I am guessing it was the Glover’s Regiment. I followed the sloping path to the left up past an underground bunker. As I approached another set of stairs, I adjusted to the left and ran at the warn path to the side of the stairs and heaved the double jogger up the embankment. I was a little surprised to see the quick and steep downside into the ocean below as I crested the little hill.

Deck detail of the Lynx.

The top tier of Fort Sewall was slowly gathering onlookers as I walked around looking for a good vantage point. I set up with a perfect view of the lighthouse which made me wonder if this exact replica of the 1812 ship was using GPS to navigate these foggy waters today. The mist and fog heightened the level of anticipation for the arrival of the ship. Along with scores of other bystanders I searched the thick fog for the ship. Then, a young, red headed boy next to me yelled out, “there it is.” I squinted trying to bring the ship into focus and that’s when I noticed the top of its sails rising up above the small island just beyond Marblehead Neck. It looked like a Hollywood movie with the old ship briefly showing its prominent sails through the lifting fog and then disappearing behind the small island. Everybody who witnessed it pointed and explained to their friends and family where they had last seen the sails. And when the ship emerged from behind the tiny island and into plain view it delighted the crowd by setting of its cannon. A plume white smoke bloomed out from the side of the ship quickly followed by the bellowing boom of the cannon. It was impressive. The very loud gunfire from our side startled everyone around Fort Sewell and woke my daughters, who had fallen asleep to the sound of the rain during our walk. That’s just about when the skies opened up and the multitude of colored umbrellas that popped up simultaneously gave tribute to the hearty New Englanders who would not be dissuaded by Mother Nature. I did not witness anyone running for cover or leaving the sight nor did I have the desire to leave. My kids were happy in their rain bubble and I hunkered down with my umbrella trying to protect my sneakers from getting too soaked from the downpour. The cannons fired again this time louder as the ship grew closer to the shoreline. The entrance of the Lynx was captivating and unforgettable. As it passed by Fort Sewall, the whole group of spectators, smiling and full of enthusiasm, headed down to the Landing for the sound of Bagpipes on the misty sea and an up close glimpse of the Lynx and her Crew. I gotta say, so far, I love this town and its people


Here is a video of the Lynx arriving in Marblehead Harbor, taken by the author.



Video of the Lynx arriving in Marblehead harbor by Katie Freedman. Click on this image to view.






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Picariello says department is “on target”

Police DepartmentAs reported in the Lynn Item, embattled Marblehead Police Chief Robert Picariello is convinced that his department is right on schedule to produce the report requested by the Board of Selectmen detailing the implementation of the improvements need. In the wake of the death of Allie Castner in a crosswalk on Pleasant Street, the town hired Strategic policy Partnership of West Tisbury to evaluate the police department. In addition, the Slectmen reduced the chief’s salary by about $7,000 and ordered him to remove the tinting from all patrol cars, among other things.

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the value of homes and property throughout the Town?"

The other side of this is Wayne Johnson and the lose of his home. Town Meeting will decide. Odds are, the Johnsons will be moving.


4/29/11: OPINION. Election Looms/Endorsement. While Recreation and Park has six candidates on the ballot, one has dropped out, so it is essentially an uncontested race. The Board of Selectmen has seven running for five spots, but Rose McCarthy is not competitive. The remaining six candidates, with the except of Bret Murray are same old ,same old. The Light Department has a race between Charlie Phillips and John Arata, sort of a battle between the old guard and the really old guard: the voter can decide which is which. Of the three, the Selectmen race is interesting but however it comes out little if anything will change.

But the School Committee does have a very interesting race that could make a difference. We can assume that Dick Nohelty, the incumbent, will be re-elected (it's a Marblehead tradition), so the race is between a great candidate (Tom Connolly) and a candidate who has no business running for school committee. Barton Hyte talks about single-handedly raising $200,000 for the schools (if that is true, a school building should be named after him), he also talks about finding new cost efficiencies (a cover for attracting anti-school supporters, after 30 years of Proposition 2.5), of being a "big picture" guy (which means the details and intricacies of school governance confuse or elude him), and finally that he will "restore" our schools to the glory of some past that he sees as wonderful (but even now our schools are considered easily within the top ten percent of Massachusetts' schools ... and by the way, past educational environments were far, far different and less scrutinized than today) ... all of which is typical politics-as-usual election pablum that unqualified candidates hope and pray they can feed to uninformed voters in a low-turnout election. And it may just work for Barton Hyte. But we can hope for better.

Tom Connolly is an accomplished guy who has lived a life of selfless service and success by quietly doing what he was hired to do, and earnestly achieving more than anyone could have hoped. Working in government, then as a professor at Suffolk University, he has experience in the realities of municipal public schools and in region-wide higher education as well. He believes in open and easy-to-understand government and he supports the notion that our teachers' overall morale makes a huge difference in the quality of education. And he should know. Unlike the other candidates he has no conflicts of interest. He has a marriage of 11 years and three kids in the schools. No axe to grind. He has spoken out strongly for building a positive climate of innovation and cooperation in our schools and he understands the true role of the School Committee, not from reading the wordy and obscure laws of the Commonwealth, but from his own experience and common sense.

To me there is only one race this year. The School Committee. And that race is a challenge to Marblehead citizens (not "voters" and "taxpayers," but our citizens) is to get to the polls and elect a candidate who not only deserves your vote, but one who will work to achieve what we all are voting for: the best school system Marblehead can have. He will move the schools to higher achievements, not just push them around like the small but loud army of know-nothings so love to do. Tom Connolly will do the job we are electing him to do without rancor or bluster, without political maneuvering or jargonizing the public dialog; he will do it the way he has done everything in his life so far, quietly, intelligently and for the good of all.

Marblehead Magazine endorses Tom Connolly for School Committee.

4/29/11: Deutsch withdraws from Rec and Park race He said, " The right fifth person joined the race and I'm withdrawing." Apparently, David Andrew Deutsch felt that when Jerry Tucker joined the race, his candidacy was no longer leader. So, the Recreation, Park and Forestry Commission election this year is uncontested: five candidates for five seats, although there will be six names on the ballot, since Deutsch withdrew after the ballots had been printed.

No further explanation was offered.

4/28/11: Man in Hoodie Robs Marblehead Bank Helicopters circling overhead, cops trying to find the robber (there are only three ways out of town by car), and townspeople fascinated that the guy is still at large... quite a day in the good old Town.

Living up to the Nike swoosh on his sweatshirt sleeve, this guy "just did it." One bank here and one in Swampscott and then earlier in the month he was photographed doing the same thing at a North Reading bank. "Just give me the money" he said to the Marblehead teller. There is no record of what he got, but it is reported that he left the Marblehead bank with nothing. Marblehead is notoriously tight with its money, you see.




4/23/11: Conservation Commission Eyes Scope of Gerry Island Project...Walter Haug, Chairman of the Marblehead Conservation Commission, and his committee visited the island on April 19 to hear the vision of the project from Peter Noyes, starting with the plan to rebuild the seawall. After the repair of seawall the project could entail a "driveway" to the island over the tidal causeway that currently limits access to the island (by land) to just the hours when the tide is out and the approach is exposed. According to a report in Wicked Local

Marblehead, Haug was reported to say, "I was on the assumption it was temporary, and when I looked at the drawing, I imagined much more of a modest and temporary access to the island. But according to Noyes, the ramp is intended to be a permanent structure. It is much larger in scope than I had envisioned looking at the drawing. There is going to be a number of issues raised at the next hearing.”

The Lobster Conservancy has already visited the island and expressed environmental concerns about the project including fuel contamination in the water and on the shore. "This is gong to be a fairly major project," Haug concluded.

The next meeting on this project is scheduled for Thursday,

May 12 at 7:00 p.m. in the Park and Recreation building.





4/22/11: Woodfin retires ... again They gave him a mirror this time. Last time it was a chair. Are they saying that they want him to sit in the chair and look at himself in the mirror? What will he see?

He proudly proclaims himself to be a "native" Marbleheaders and he was born here, raised here, and educated through high school here. He has served on the Board of Selectmen, on and off, since 1993, on the Planning Board for six years, and on the Conservation Commission as well. His wife of 32 years, Kathy, daughters Ashley and Brittany, and now two grand children have all lived at the "top" of Lincoln Avenue in the traditional Woodfin family home through it all.

He always said he was a "plain spoken" person with "common sense, honesty, integrity, good old fashioned Yankee frugality" with "an abiding love of Marblehead and her history and traditions."

In recent years he has been embroiled in online disputes and a public diatribe against Police Chief Bob Picarello, which brought him a dose of good old Marblehead criticism as well. During the last election cycle he was asked why he supported the Selectmen's vote to double back on their decision to hold a public hearing into the Police Chief's and his department's handling of the Ally Castner fatality in a crosswalk on Pleasant Street, he said, "I specifically wanted the public hearing to NOT take on the tenor of a lynching party..." which, given the emotions involved was certainly a possibility.

But no Selectman can avoid criticism and especially Selectmen with a passionate commitment to the Town they grew up in. With 14 years on the Board of Selectmen and as many years in other service to the Town, Bill Woodfin leaves a solid record for others to emulate. He can sit the chair and look in the mirror and see a son of Marblehead who has given much. He may, like so many others, be bruised and battered from accepting a leadership role in town government, but he is also warmed and welcomed into the ranks of retired Selectmen who have made a difference. Now... if he will just stay retired this time.

NOTE: rumors swirl... some say he now wants to succeed Tony Sasso as the next Town Administrator and some say he may be moving to Minnesota to be with his grandchildren. It may be that after all these years Bill is trying to sort out his options. Maybe he will write a history of the Woodfins for Marblehead Magazine. In any case, we wish him well.

4/21/11: Candidates' Night is Monday April 25 Sponsored by the League of women voters, this annual event will be held at Marblehead High School at7:00 p.m. Monday night. Candidates for the Board of Selectmen, Recreation and Parks Commission, School Committee, and the Light Commission will be featured. If you want to ask the candidates a question contact Sherri Pressman at 781-639-1143 or e-mail her at

All candidates are invited to speak to the Town and answer questions. The event will be held in the library.

4/20/11: Dr. Eva Wong to conduct workshop She has a lineage that goes back 3,000 years, but she will be here on Saturday and Sunday, April 30 and May 1. She will be conducting a "Meditation Weekend Workshop," teaching Daoist Qigong and meditation, a treatment option for both preventative and curative care. Hand in Hand Massage of Marblehead is sponsoring the visit. The workshop will be held in the Chamber of Commerce building at 62 Pleasant Street, Marblehead.







4/19/11: David Rohde, a New York Times journalist who was kidnapped and held by Taliban terrorists for seven months in Afghanistan, will speak about his book, "A Rope and a Prayer" at Abbot Hall, Saturday, April 30, 7:00 p.m. He was a long-time friend of well-known Marbleheader, Bud Grader, whose family has long served the Town in many capacities. The event is free to the public.





4/19/11: Marblehead Boston Marathon Runners Report



4/18/11: Tall Ship, "Lynx" to visit Marblehead: A 122-foot top sail schooner, the Lynx, will visit Marblehead and tie up at the harbormaster’s dock during the week of May 15-23. The ship will be available for visitor boardings at $5 per person. The ship was built for authenticity to the 1812 plans in Rockpor, Maine. The ship is scheduled to play a role in the 200th anniversary of the War of 1812. This visit was initiated by the Marblehead Chamber of Commerce. Chamber Executive Director Ann Marie Casey stated (Lynn Item) that the chamber feels this visit will be good for business and for tourism to the Town. Look pretty exciting from here.









Friday, 4/15/11: Wayne Attridge announces retirement. In 17 days a career in service to the Town of Marblehead that spanned three decades will end. But, it will not be forgotten. His expertise in solid waste disposal has led Marblehead's recycling efforts and the design and maintenance of the transfer station and town dump. Marblehead's efforts in solid waste disposal and recycling have been sited by the state on many occasions. He quoted [Lynn Item] Bill Woodfin's constant refrain of "Marblehead Forever" as his statement concluded to rousing applause, if with mixed feelings to be sure.

Monday, 4/11/11: OPINION. Stupid Politician Tricks: Jonathan Lederman's an April Fool. It's in the genre of shouting "Fire!" in a theater, but not quite so horrible. But still, to record the superintendent's voice, to misuse the Town's emergency equipment, to alarm school committee members with an "April's Fools Day" cancellation of school, and to ignore the potential problems that could have occurred in such a close-net town where information moves by word-of-mouth faster than a speeding bullet is really stupid, probably illegal, and totally sophomoric and irresponsible. But then to add to the injury the insult of not only not apologizing, but saying he will probably do it again and telling the committee that they need to get "a sense of humor" would, to any thinking resident, indicate an individual who has no business serving on the school committee. Pushing his "sense of humor" so forcefully and disturbingly onto the committee members who take their responsibilities seriously is definitely a form of bullying. At the least Lederman has further weakened whatever residue of trust was left, at worst he has proven that he should resign and let someone who puts the Town first take his seat.

Monday, 4/10/11: School Committee Candidates appear before PTO. Tom Connolly, Barton Hyte, and Dick Nohelty (incumbent) are running for the two open seats on the Marblehead School Committee. Appearing before a sparse audience of 15 or so town residents plus the PTO and one reporter, the candidates answered prepared questions sent to each days before the event. The highlights we saw for each candidate were:

  • Connolly consistently advocates open and transparent school operations, including for the the school committee, and is an advocate for great teaching as the essential element of quality in education.
  • Hyte regularly spoke about budget issues as the most important in managing the district.
  • Nohelty, as the incumbent, spoke in support of the current committee's master plan, of building teaching efficiency through technology, and of the committee's high expectations for the new superintendent.

Overall it was a dress performance for the Candidates' Night sponsored by the League of Women Voters on Monday, April 25,7:00 p.m. at Marblehead High School. Only a spattering of candidate lawn signs have currently appeared along the streets of Town and the campaign seems tepid at best. Given that environment the reelection of the incumbent would seem to be a foregone conclusion. So, the race is between Connolly and Hyte. Connolly seems to have a clear grasp of educational issues and of nature of teaching in the 21st century. Hyte seems to focus on dollars and budgets. But, it was just the first appearance so let's all keep watching.

Thursday, 3/31/11: Town Meeting Update: Prop 2.5 Overrides proposed

There are six Proposition 2.5 overrides proposed in the Town Warrant. Four are related to the Town Dump and its landfill or transfer station. One is for making the Old Town House accessible. And, one for the new Glover School building.

Thursday, 3/24/11: Marblehead Boys Hockey team wins Division 3 State Championship.
6-3, March 20 at the TD Garden the Marblehead High School hockey went into history. Coach Bob Jackson, who saw his team trailing 2-1 after the first quarter said, according to the Marblehead Reporter, "We knew today was our day, and nobody was gong to take it away from us." The 2011 team is the only team in history to win the championship.

Friday, 3/11/11: Dulac is out early. He says it was "my doctor's decision." But, say whatever you want Paul Dulac's last year here in Marblehead was no better than his last year in the last two town he was in. Controversy, unhappiness, and a sudden departure. There are always two sides to every story, but there is usually only one pattern that emerges. Anyway, he's gone now, with the "Critical Spirit" whirlpool of instructional confusion still circling behind him. Only one member of the School Committee was there for the announcement and no members of the Board of Selectmen. Does anyone remember when Phil Devaux left? The whole town turned out. Marblehead has a way of letting you know, doesn't it? By the way, Brian Salzer, Business Manager, is going to stand in as Acting Superintendent until the newly appointed superintendent, Gregg Maas takes over on July 1. Maas ended his official career in Wisconsin this year with full retirement honors. Now he has moved here to start another career... at least for the three years of his contract.

Friday, 3/4/11: Police Chief's job status meeting scheduled. Well, this question of whether the Marblehead Chief of Police's position should be decided by Civil Service regulations or not has been around for a long time. The Selectmen (most of them, that is) have always wanted to take it out of civil service, but the department officials, seeing it as a better opportunity to have the chief come from within the department have generally favored keep the status as it has always been. Predictably, the Selectmen have appointed an outside firm to render the finding they want, and Strategic Policy Partnership of West Tinsbury did not disappoint. It should be stated, though, that many others have also come to the same conclusion and many towns have made the same move away from civil service. Articles 30 and 31 on Mays Town Meeting Warrant will give the townspeople a chance to weigh in. Although, Town Meeting usually rubber-stamps whatever Town officials want. But there have been exceptions, to be sure. The last time a chief was appointed the Selectmen put out an "all points bulletin" a nationwide search as they put it and even with another paid advisory service to assist them (Badgequest) they appointed the current chief, Robert Piccarello, who has been one of the most embattled and controversal chiefs in history. The Selectmen recently reduced his annual pay in punishment for the mess over the handling of the death of a young woman in a crosswalk. Maybe we need to put out an "all points" bulletin for better Selectmen. Just a thought.

Thursday, 3/3/11: Marion Keating admits to deleting evidence. Forgetting her responsibilities as a police officer in the chain of evidence, Sgt. Keating, acting as a sympathetic parent, she said, deleted a text message from Allie Castner's mobile phone. The message, [The Marblehead Reporter 3/3/11] was reported as: "Why aren;t you answering? Are you dead?" While hoping to spare the family and the sender the pain of such a message, perhaps moments before or after her death crossing Pleasant Street in a crosswalk, it could prove to be a key in understanding what actually happened, as each piece of evidence can add to the ultimate explanation. Keating also retracted a statement that she had personally comforted the victim at the scene.

Tuesday, 2/22/11: Confusion Marks School Committee Meeting, Principal Hanna takes the heat. By some accounts it was

Committee member Dick Nohelty yelling at Principal Hanna [or "admonishing" him as the Daily Item had it -- 2/21/11] that what is needed is leadershp not confusing statements. "If you don't think this is a good idea, say 'No.' Have the fortitude to run your school." (Item) Jonathan Lederman chimed in saying that the school needs a "bit bull" to champion course improvements. Superintendent DuLac said that he is the "Pit Bull" hoping to supply the leadership being called for, but neither committee member seemed to be buying it. At issue was Spanish language education and whether the school wold start 4-6 Spanish next year (2011-2012) or wait until 2012-2013. Could everyone get on the same page, por favor?

Saturday, 2/20/11: Virtual High School comes to Marblehead? Principal Kenneth Weinstein is enamored with a new Virtual High School which serves thousands of students at hundreds of high schools and offers courses and depths of studies outside of the budget possibilities of most municipal schools. Languages, writing courses, enrichment in the arts, mathematics, sciences... well you name it. And, Marblehead wants in and the School Committee is listening. Surrounding communities are already participating, but Marblehead, a Johnny-come-lately, wants to join the fun. Do they have have a course for keeping up?

2/18/11: The Salem Power to Close in 2014? After years of cries of health risks, cancer and pollution that ugly sucker is finally starting to cave. Imagine: no more soot and smoke coating everything in Marblehead. Imagine, though, what will replace it. Or is the ground so polluted that it will be like Chernobyl where nothing grows for a half life the stretches to twelve digits? We'll see.

2/10/11: Marion Keating, Marblehead's first female patrol office and first female sergeant retired abruptly on February 4, 2011. After 33 years she called it quit and not on a particularly high note either. Over the past three years she was involved in a sexual and an age discrimination suit against Chief Robert Picariello. Also in the death of Ally Castner, struck down by a car in a cross walk, there were allegations of misstatements and retractions that added nothing to the resolution of citizens' concerns over the handling of that tragedy. Sgt. Keating had been suspended in 2010 for 50 days without pay by the Board of Selectmen for falsifying a police document. Throughout all of these situations Keating maintained that she did nothing wrong but was a victim of mistreatment and harassment.

The end of her career aside, Marion Keating achieved a high level of success in the force in sexual-assault cases and won accalades around the statew for her performance in the role. She will continue in her role as  police educator and spend more time with her ailing mother and her daughter. As far her her future employment she is hoping to work with children and crime victims.

2/3/11: Gregory Maas, retiring superintendent of the Green Bay, Wisonsin public schools, has been offered the same job in Marblehead. Still pending are contract negotiations and background checks. Maas could start, if everything works out, on July 1, 2011. It might be a step down for Maas, though, since he has been dealing with a budget of $277 million and roughly 20,000 students. Marblehead's budget is under $30 million and has one fifth of the students. But in another way, it might be a step up. He is currently making $184,000 per year and that is also what the current Marblehead Superintendent is making. So, he could be working less and making more. But maybe not, knowing Marblehead: it might be the other way around. Negotiations are ongoing.