We have been reporting online about important events in Marblehead, and neighboring communities, since the inception of legendinc.com in 1995. This is a "digest" of events as reported in the Daily Evening Item, the Salem Evening News, the Marblehead Reporter, and The Boston Globe, among other resources. We also publish original articles and intersperse our writings throughout. Visit our 1995 to present day Archives. Also see our Marblehead Police Log. And, visit our Timeline of History, 1615-2005. Plus, we still have some old "In Print" issues available (1980 to 1995)!
3/24: Village School repair cost is rising and it hasn't even started yet. It's going to be a lot of money, no matter how you look at it. But, when teachers are in rooms at 54 degrees and trying to teach, something's got to happen. The situation has been going on for a long time, with the maintenance crew there keeping the furnace going with emergency repairs. The Town is going to be asked for a $22 million, non-state-supported override at a Special Election. 123,00 square feet, 700 students,and 116 teachers and employees deserve some attention on an issue as basic as heat in the winter. Teaching in hat, gloves,and boots before 25 shivering students is definitely NOT the way to go. We'll see. The School Committee is still talking and talking, but no dates have yet been set.
2/22: Top salaries released for 2008: [Lynn Daily Item]
3/6: Village School Repairs can't wait. Special Town Meeting in the offing. Fifty-year-old heating system must be replaced, requiring major changes in the structure. No state aid. $22 million in the plan.
Lori Ehrlich wins State Representative seat easily. By all accounts she was worried and stressed, but it was for nothing. Ms. Ehrlich won the 8th Essex District seat in a walk-away, 56.6. pecent to 34.6 percent to her Republican opponent.
2/19: Maddies hasn't sunk yet ... sort of. Well, if it's really an "institution" then it should fight for its life, right? Owner John TYangusso said that he might be able to reopen in April. If the institution sells as planned. Lots of people are interested but even if it doesn't sell John says they'll open anyway. The Board of Selectmen mentioned that the liquour license is one of those "use it or lose it" sort of things, reminding the owner that the license is the property of Marblehead, not Maddies. Why not pour some brine into the woound? The listing price is $325,000. What do you say, maties?
2/7: Commeret's request worries school's trustees. After receiving a request to return to work, the Charter School's trustees worry aloud that he really wants more than that. Unconfirmed reports indicate that Commeret wants a contractual bonus and the freedom to work elsewhere during his "leave" from the school. The trial for the charges brought against him is scheduled for March 24. Thomas Commeret, formerly the headmaster, earned $106,000 per year. [The Daily Item]
2/6: John Blaisdell wins the Republican nomination and Lori Ehrlich wins the Democratic nomination for the 8th District seat in the state legislature. Tamping down newcomers Cesar Archilla (D) and Tanya DeGenova (R) the two successful candidates will meet in a special election on March 4. In the most recent election Democrats turned out almost 2:1 to Republicans. So, Lori Ehrlich's success in the primary is likely to continue into the general. She won in Marblehead and Lynn and almost beat Archilla in his home town. She garnered twice the votes of her opponent.
2/5: Board of Appeal Okays Lead Mills. After almost a year and a half Marblehead protector of things Marblehead has approved the 45-unit condominium complex as the signature feature of the main entrance to Marblehead. 12 units will be "affordable," the remaining 33 will be sold at market value (unaffordable?). End of story?
1/16: Maddies Closes doors for ever after 62 years. It's not that they're out of beer, it's time and tide that's run out for the signature watering hole of Marblehead's world famous waterfront. New restaurants, changing social morays, tough enforcement of over-serving by the Board of Selectmen and, really, a new generation that heads out of town for a good time and a meal. Like all things of the old town, Maddies where many a draft was raised, has gone down before big screen televisions, mansions with everything they need, and people who sometimes sleep here but never "live" here. There are lots of reasons why, but sad to say, there are probably more reasons than people who care to hear them.
11/28: Special Election for State Representative set for Feb. 5. Only two "annouced candidates" [The Reporter] so far: Democrat Lori Ehrlich and Republican John Bliasdell.
11/28: Felony charge of using a door as a "deadly weapon" is dropped against Thomas Commeret, but assault and battery and other charges still loom.
11/27: Doug Peterson's getting kicked upstairs. Sixteen years later he walks away to the tune of a dnigrating Reporter editorial claiming he's looking for a fat pension and a sort of ho hum from the district. Even the takers for the position on the ballot seem not to be too excited about it. Reed Cassidy, highly qualified and experienced is in. Sharon Randall, earstwhile candidate for the seat is thinking it over. Lori Ehrlich, democrat, liberal and Healthlink veteran is in. John Blaisdell, a newcomer and Marblehead Police Officer was seen gathering signatures at a local coffee stop, and there are a couple of others. But Doug's off to "new, exciting times." He was quoted as expressing interest that Massachusetts is the nation's nuber two blueberry producer. Wow.
11/26: Sweeney's Retreat Under Attack. The Selectmen are vigiliant. They are watching. The Town's infrastructure is falling apart, morale is low, but the Selectmen are all over Sweeney's Retreat for over serving alcohol. They have issued a written warning! It was after midnight and not a mouse was stirring, one car hit another in a parking lot, the female perp was described as "very loquacious." There was word on an argument between the woman and her boyfriend over who was going to drive the car home. "You're too drunk," he said she said. Perennial Selectman William L. Woodfin III bellied up to the "let's be fair" bar and noted that the little quiet restaurant had never been singled out before for viloations. But then, without missing a beat, he called for the letter to be sent to the Sweeney's by making the motion which carried unanimously. "This is the course we've taken recently," said Judy Jacobi. Like a song fading out at the end, Mrs. Jacobi's words left listeners wondering if that meant the Board could change course again or that there was no way to ever know what "course" their vigilance would take next.
10/27: Marblehead Christmas Tree Fire cancelled. Due to the construction on the Causeway the fire is deemed to be too dangerous this year. Residents will have to take their trees to the transfer station or have them out on the curb for pick up between January 2 and 11.
11/11: Annual Veterans Day celebration highlighted by Woodfin speech.
At first, he hesitated. Not a veteran. But his Dad sure was. And then he decided that if asked (Veterans Agent David Rodgers did ask) he would serve, that is give a Woodfin rousing speech. And that he did to a pack audience at Abbot Hall. By all accounts, one of the best, most respectful and, yes, one of those belly-up-to-bar rousing speeches that William L. Woodfin III is famous for. And no better day, and no better cause to bring out the best.
10/31: Nuggets reopens. After an August driver smashed through the store's front door and demolished the interior, Sandra Burke worked hard overseeing the refit and today reopened for business. She lauded the new store and said, "it was painful to get here, but the new store is beautiful." (The Salem News.]
10/25: He's really fat, but that's not the half of it. Neil Tejwani, a boy who grew up in Marblehead. And grew and grew. Once he was really, really fat ... we mean a stand out sort of fat ... he became the star of a television show dedicated to losing weight. Isn't that sort of going bankrupt and then opening a financial planning business? Well, anyway, there he is each week on "The Biggest Loser, and in the most recent episode he schemed to gain weight by drinking a lot of water and to get a popular player, Jez, kicked off the show. Proclaiming that he really is a nice guy and that, after all, it is a game, Neil did what all reality show contestants always do... whatever it takes to stay another week. So far, on the show, he has lost 49 pounds. That's just under 12 percent of his original body weight or in a normal 170 pound male it would be less than 20 pounds. Where will it all end? With Neil lean, buff, svelte and debonaire at Devereux Beach next summer? Doubtful, very doubtful. But he may win the title of "The Biggest Loser," such as it is, and thereby bring some sort of honor back to his hometown. We're still working on where this will fit into the good old town's glorious history ... but shall we shall, it may be a very tight fit?
10/24: Marblehead has top MCAS scores in the area. In fact the Superintendent said that we are now one of the top districts in Massachusetts. He said the overall scores were "good," and Marblehead High School's were "excellent." He stated that there was still work to do, as there is in all districts in the Commonwealth. But still, Dr. Dulac, it could be worse. Click here to review all the scores.
10/23: Lead Mills Goes On and On. "The jury's still out in my mind," stated Zoning Board member. But we must be in the fifth or sixth round. The neighbors are still nixing the design, and essentially the use of the land, and they are not going away even though the process has stretched out for years, as of now. The designers of the project expressed hope that the process was reaching its conclusion and that the project would go forward.
10/22: Jane Ziergiebel, daughter of Marblehead High School's principal killed in a car accident. It was 12:55 a.m. on Friday night. She was driving alone in her father's 1990 Mazda Miata. She lost control, and a very rainy night, struck the left rail and careened into the median on Interstate 90, just before Exit 8. She was not wearing a seatbelt.
10/19: With a potential $215,733 deficit from the influx of 46 new students (grades four to eight) Superintendent of Schools, Dr. Paul Dulac, has asked the administrators to be "creative" and, he says, they are responding. It is estimated that 90 student reentered the main public school system after the troubles at the Charter school forced them to go. Each of these students bring $10,000 of in school aid with them ... next year. SO, this year is a serious challenge due to no fault of the public schools. A special town meeting may be in the offing and that meeting could allocate current funds to the deficit. Some school committee members like Rob Dana are expressing concerns about any further cuts, reminding everyone of the cuts that were already made to balance this year's budget prior to the Charter School migrations. The current deficit includes $172,000 in special educations, $25,000 in Middle School salaries, and some smaller amounts for expenses and general operations.
10/18: Man drowns kayaking. Robert D. Cunningham, of Peabody, drowned while kayaking off Marblehead Neck. He was an avid kayaker and fisherman.
Information about the death will be made once the investigation is complete, police said.
10/16: Dreams come true for Maureen McKinnon and Tim Angle. Through the normal trials and tribulations of Olympic athletes, these two have won their way to success. They will be representing the United States at the Paralympics in China next summer. Congrats.
10/15: Public Schools are at capacity. Despite new facilities, or maybe because of them, Marblehead Public Schools are at full capacity for students. The increase is also partly because of the Charter School's implosion and arrest of the Headmaster, Thomas Commeret at the end of last year's school session. With class size limited by school committee policy there are strains on the system that are going cause problems. "The distrcit is at capacity plus with no room to expand," said school superintendent Paul Dulac. "We're stretched to the point where we have to make a move." Next year's fiscal predictions are bleak. The Charter school students (90-100) who have come back into the main system have brought with them $10,000 each in school aid. A special Town Meeting will be required, however, to tap into that money.
10/1: Glover School to get a major refit. Named by the Massachusetts Building Authority as a category 4 (poor condition) school the School Committee has put the old Glover on the chopping block ... but in a good way. Details are still "in committee."
9/24: Buba resigns from Charter School. In a self-congratulatory letter of resignation, touting his "tireless efforts" and guiding "the finances of our school through some tumultuous times inlcuding false allegations...." [The Daily Item] His appointment to the Board was called into question by the Department of Education. His term on the Board was indeed tumultuous, in the end causing five members of the Board (all opposed to Buba's election to chairman) including the former Chair to leave. The subsequent vote by to Board to extend Headmaster Commeret;s contract ultimately almost destroyed the school. Commeret is now awaiting charges on an incident at the school. (see below).
9/5: Bids Aplenty on the Causeway Redo. Tony Sasso will really be in the hot seat in his recommendation to the Board of Selectman concerning which company will be entrusted with the repair of the Causeway. 12 of the bids were less than 10 years ago. 37 companies have applied. Apparently the business climate (falling property sales numbers and a general malais in the contruction business) have resulted in the Causeway attracting a lot of attention. The Town authorized a $8.7 million override to fund the construction. The contract is scheduled to be awarded on September 12, with work to begin around October 1 and be completed by July 1, 2008.
8/25: New management may take over at the Charter School. Academics, curriculum, faculty and daily management will (perhaps) go to Nina Cullen-Hamzeh the schools current assistant headmaster. Albert Argenziano may possibly take over the school's community, financing, enrollment, state compliance and reporting, plus, fundraising. All of this to replace the former headmaster, Thomas Commeret who was banned from the campus, stripped of his duties after being accused of pushing a 14-year old girl against a door to intimidate her to not tell that she saw him drinking in his office. Commeret has pleaded innocent to all the charges.
8/24: Town picks a new Police Sergeant. Jason Conrad is going to follow in the footsteps of his Mom, the first female superior officer on the Marblehead Police Force. He will begin as the midnight shift sergeant. Conrad has served the Town's police department for six years.
8/8: Gracie's and Stramski's Way High in Bacteria. The EPA has announced that two of Marblehead's most popular beaches are now in the "elevated levels of bacteria" category. This was six weeks ago. People driving along the area of Gracie know well enough that many people have been swimming there during the recent hot spell. "We'll have to evict a bunch of raccoons or replace some manholes. I don't know," said Dana Snow, Public Works Director. [Lynn Item]
8/3: Tom Commeret goes on trial October 1. Tom's lawyer, J.W. "Jay" Carney Jr. said he was pushing for a speedy trail for only the second time in his 30-year career because of the unfairness of all that has befallen his client, and that the school should not be "left without its leader." [The Salem News] He expressed great confidence in his client's innocence of assaulting a 14-year-old female student. All of this while the interviewee for Commeret's position cautioned the school that they should clean out his office and move on. "It looks like he just went out to Dunkin' Donuts," the prospective replacement said to the interview committee. Seems like mixed messages still flow freely at the Charter School. Maybe after Tom comes back he'll bring coffee and donuts for everyone.
8/2: Keating Demoted by New Chief. After thirty years a just a month under a new Chief, Marion Keating has lost her detective status, and is not happy about it. The new Chief, Robert Picariello would not comment on "personnel changes." Keating is the only female superior officer on the Marblehead force.
Maddie's fights back over suspension of license. Not during the busiest week of the watering hole's business year. That was the ruling of the court. The five-day suspension for serving intoxicated patrons will be served but not just during race week. Hey, serving intoxicated patrons is really, really bad, but not serving visiting sailors during race week ... well that's just over the top. So, if you are intoxicated or want to be ... stay away from Maddie's. Right? Right.
The new superintendent of schools, Paul Dulac, after a nationwide search and being selected has finally settled the burning question: What will he do with Marblehead's schools? The answer was given to the school meeting this past week: "create an educational system designed to better prepare Marblehead students cognitively and metacognitively for success in our changing world." He waxed on about changes in the world, creative problem solving, and the "global market" for students seeking future employment. And, he has a 50- an 100-day plan and is predicting that the "results will be huge." [The Reporter] Well, there you have it. Everything will be better and brighter soon. No one mentioned that 85% of last year's graduates went to the college of their first choice. Or that 100% of our graduates go to four year colleges. There are a whole bunch of other things that don't and didn't get mentioned, but, really, who cares about good news last year anyway? We have this upcoming year to completely start over again and that's all that matters. Unless you are actually a teacher who walks into the classroom every day facing between 17 and 30 students with varying degrees of "readiness" to learn. If you were or are one of those individuals, you know, the ones that do ALL the work, then you will work hard to maintain what worked last year and then try to find new ways to reach every student. Somehow I wish the new Super had mentioned the teachers, or maybe that the Reporter mentioned that he mentioned them. It sounded like the schools' progress and improvements all come from the head office. But, anyone who ever attended a school knows that it is the rare, rare Superintendent who is ever seen in a classroom. But, maybe that's just "old school" and not seriously metacognitive of me.
7/30: Retiree health benefits suddenly flew up the pop charts on the Finance Committee's agenda recently. Even after death, apparently, Marblehead retired employees still have an impact on the budget via their surviving spouses. Another trust fund like the trust fund establised two years gao to cover medical claims is being eyed as the answer to the problem. It was a success in reducing the deficit and hopefully the new one will also help avoid more financial difficulties for the town. Apparently there is a $149 million potential liability. Initially $2.8 million will have to be set aside for the next "five or six years." [The Daily Item]
7/20: Shribman appointed as Assistant Town Counsel. Living up to his parting comment that "I assume my service is not over..." just former Selectman Jeff Shribman has been appointed as one of the Town's assistant counsels. Trading in years of service with no pay, for service with pay, Shribman, who considers Town Administrator Tony Sasso, "a close friend" [Daily Item] was appointed unanimously to the post. The Selectmen praised Shribman for his love of the Town and tireless service to the Town.
7/16: Selectmen determine to look at 40B alternatives. "Smart growth zoning" may be another way to protect Marblehead's nice neighborhoods from the encroachment of "affordable" housing residents, but maybe not. Now, 40R may be the bill we like. And in a town with a median income of $87,000. "Affordable" means a home for $393,594 in a town with the median home valued at $573,500. [Lynn Item]
6/12: Charter School Leader-In-Exile bucks "no confidence" wave and says,"Not guilty" and "Never happened. Period." The 55-year-old head of Marblehead's Public Charter School pleaded not guilty to a felony assault charge in Lynn district Court. He had an audience of former and present school parents and "a hoard of media." [The Daily Item] Reportedly, he stood stoically while his lawyer, Debra Del Vecchio did all the talking. She made the case that pressure from a small group upgraded the police charge from misdemeanor to felony assault. She said that the victim, a 14-year-old female student at the school had told a different story at different times. The charge of assault with a dangerous weapon involved Commeret's use of a door to pin the student or to push the student. The Assistant District Attorney said the victim was threatened by Commeret and that that could account for a more thorough recounting of the event once the threat to her well-being was removed. The motion to reduce the charge was denied. A pre-trial conference is scheduled for July 20. Commeret has been placed on paid administrative leave by the Board of Trustees. The former headmaster has had some police problems concerning alcohol but the only victory he won at the hearing was that the judge refused to include a ban on alcohol as a pre-trial condition. Commeret who is charged with assault over allegedly trying to hide the fact that he was drinking in his office at the school during school hours has said repeatedly that he does not drink ... anymore .... The penalties involved, maximum jail time of either 10 years (felony) or two and a half years (misdemeanor) are certainly serious enough for all parties to remember and respect that anyone accused is innocent until found guilty. Mr. Commeret's lawyer mentioned the "mob mentality" [The Salem News] that she said contributed to the higher level charge against her client. Commeret has headed the school of 230 students, grades four to eight since its founding in 1995 and is currently paid $96,000 a year.
6/5: Maddies Sail Loft stung in overserving complaint. It's not the first time, but the owner of the classic Marblehead watering hole is "perplexed" by the way Marblehead Police are constantly outside his door, checking things. Well, obviously the police are on to something. The complaint, that the establishment allowed a patron to "drink to the point of intoxication," seems like no surprise to anyone, but still the law is the law. Mr. John Tangusso is off to see the wizard, er... The Board of Selectmen, again. We'll see what happens.
6/4: Blackbeard's Skull. A new exhibit at the Marblehead Museum in Abbot Hall, "Pirates and Privateers n Marblehead" purports to have Blackbeard's skull on display. Hmmm... how can we know?
6/1: Drunk on the Job? Assaulting a young girl? It's Schooltime. Thomas L. Commeret, 55, of 2 Bartlett Street is the headmaster of the Marblehead Charter Public School and, oh boy, does he have some problems. Again. On April 9, a 14-year-old female student at the school allegedly saw Commeret drinking in his office during school hours of operation, he now charged with assault and battery on the young student, with a dangerous weapon and with threatening to commit a crime. In the police report [The Daily Item] Commeret noticed the student standing outside of his office and "motioned" her into the room, shut the door, had brief discussion, rushed toward her, grabbed her arms, and pushed her against the door. He allegedly said to her, "If you say anything I'll [expletive]-ing find you. He then, the report goes on, jerked her back and let her go. On April 29, 2006 Commeret was arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol. There have been recent eruptions on the school's Board of Directors with resignations, mass defections of the students (27 percent) and many local stories casting the activities at the school in a light less favorable, shall we say, than the typical science fair and sports events. Commeret is reportedly [Salem News] running the school from his home, since May 16.
5/24: 300-Year Old Cannon Found. Local fisherman found a 300 year old cannon in the waters off Marblehead Neck. According to the Marblehead Reporter state history officials have concluded that the small weapon may be from of the famed pirate ship Whydah. Harry Noyes and Dennis McGrath, urchin fishermen, have acquired the proper permits and are planning to resume the seach of the area in hopes of find real sunken treasure. Where there's a swivel gun from the 1700 there may well be gold coins and other valuable. Going down....
John Lunt appointed Lieutenant. He had the highest score, went to high school here, had the new Chief's recommendation and has served with distinction in the department since 1997. Now is has pinned on the gold bars. Congratulations to a great police office, from a great police family. The Town is lucky to have him.
5/22: Interim Police Chief Robert Coyne retires. 36 years of public safety service is over, but life goes on of course. Robert Coyne, 63, has seen it all. He has gone from walking a beat with no radio, to a department full of computers and technology that was never dreamed of in the beginning of his career in 1970. "You meet so many people along the way -- not just the people you work with -- people you see and talk to all the time. I'm going to miss that." [Salem News] And, it's safe to say, Bob, they will all miss that too.
5/21: Angenica land purchase is coming back. Maybe. After losing at Annual Town Meeting by one vote and then on a recount by eight, the proponents are now pursuing a Special Town Meeting to get what they want. History shows, however, that special town meetings called for one purpose can backfire badly on the people who wanted it. Time will tell. The proponents will either need 400 signatures or the vote the Board of Selectmen. It would also take a two thirds vote of the special town meeting to send it out to the voters for final approval. The project has not been rejected twice by the Town.
5/17: Robin Michaud, incumbents and former incumbents win. The new Town Clerk won big despite a vast number of signs for her opponent. In the end. Tom McNulty's endorsement and Robin's clear and sterling quallifications for the job won the day. William Woodfin waltedz to win his old seat back on the Board of Selectmen as perrennial gadfly-candidate Rose McCarthy wilted in the background. David Rodgers unseated the only incumbent to lose, Todd Norman, and retook his seat on the Recreation, Parks, and Forestry Board. The $8.7 million causeway project (the driveway to the Neck) is on its way to voters.
5/10: Town Meeting fails a quorum call. Lead Mills, the perrennial article, failed due to lack of interest after the Angenica porponents and neighbors left in defeat. For the first time in many years Town Meeting was extended to a third night after former Selectman William Conly called for a quorum vote something he oddly announced that he never does.
5/3: Robert Picariello picked for Chief of Police. After a nearly endless and tediously complicated process, including decisional fits and starts, the Board of Selectmen voted unanimously (4-0) to appoint Picariello as chief. Departing from history, this Board chose a path of attempting to pick someone outside of the department to lead, and was immediately met with opposition from all side. The Board then, instead of making a decision, decide to basically refer the decision to a committee and in the process sought expensive outside assistance and counsel. In the end they appointed Picariello, the front runner from the beginning.
4/27: Town Clerk race is somewhat interesting. Well, Gail Brown (pictured below from her campaign material), who at one time sued the Town of Marblehead over the discovery of head lice, and whose mother was defeated after 34 years in the same office, is now running to replace the man who replace her mother. But she's not alone. Tom McNulty the incumbent has vigorously endorsed Robin Michaud, who with that endorsement is the odds-on favorite to win. But they are not alone either. Frederkick Armstrong is running too, but he's dragging some baggage -- he was disbarred as a lawyer and he served some time in jail for the offenses that ended his legal career. That was ten years ago, however. But still it seems to be a factor in the race. Only in Marblehead.
Brian Palmer fired from Reserve Police ranks. Some say it's pay back for his father's feud with the Selectmen during his reign as Chief of Police. Some say it's the way he left his last employment at the Middleton jail where he was accused of abusing sick leave. But in any case he's all done in Marblehead with the recent unanimous vote of the Board of Selectmen and the recommendation of Tony Sasso, Town Administrator, who acted as hearing officer at an April 18 meeting to determine the fate of the individual's employment with the Town. The then Chief of Police also did not recommend the continuation of Palmer's employment, due to some "misleading and/or misrepresenting" entries on his resume. Palmer currently works as a delivery person for Staples. He certainly is not saying to anyone, "That was easy," when working for the Town of Marblehead comes up.
4/24: Civil War DVD wins award but not Spirit of '76 permission. The words "First in revolution and first in '61" are very familiar to most Marbleheaders today, but what does 'first in '61' really mean? The answer is now offered for all to see in "Marblehead and the Civil War" a DVD produced by Joan Goloboy and narrated by Anthony Silva of WBZ, and a Marbleheader himself. The DVD recently won the prestigeous Telly Award for excellence in history. In past this award has been won by Disney Studios, Sony, Miramax and National Geographic. On the day after the fall of Fort Sumter, April 15, 1861, President Lincoln put out a call for troops to the states, and Marblehead was the first to respond with three companies. Ultimately Marblehead contributed 1,000 men to the Civil War struggle. Those killed are listed on the Civil War memorial in Memorial Park.
4/8: Charter School mess won't go away. Former members of the school's Board of Trustees are now joining in the dispute over how the school is run and who is running it. Also a reported (Salem News) ten Charter school students have left mid-year to attend the Marblehead Veterans Middle School, a number that may actually be understated in all the controversy. The Charter school has a total of 230 students enrolled. The vote to keep Thomas Commeret in his office is disputed (three employees of the school voted, which was easily the difference in a six to five vote in his favor). Some of the former trustees are hoping that the state DOE will step in and take control of the situation.
4/6: James Jacobs is gunned down in Dorchester. It's a sad story to be sure. He was a Marblehead High School graduate (Class 0f 1998), but that doesn't really do justice to that accomplishment. Marblehead is the last stop on the Metco bus from Boston, and starting in the second grade at Glover School, James made that trip 180 times a year for 11 years. Up before dawn and home after dark. He also played varisty basketball with distinction for the good old Town. He then served two Iraq tours in the U.S. Army, achieving the rate of sergeant. Then he went on to Wentworth Institute of Technology, studying electrical enigeering. He was just a few months from getting his degree when, shockingly, he was shot 18 times in the back and killed. Jacobs suffered from post traumatic syndrome after his tours in Iraq. A hardscrabble life, clawing his way out of his enivornment on the verge of success, ended in violence: exactly the end that so many in his life had dreamed he would avoid. A Marbleheader to remember.
4/19: Weapons scare at Marblehead High School. Explosive sniffing dogs, and police everywhere swept through the hallways, but all for nought. On April 11 one .44 caliber round was discovered and caused quite a stir to determine if that was all there was or was there more ammo laying around. All clear.
4/1: Marblehead High School's air quality is causing parent concern. A 44-page report from the Massachusetts Department of Public Health has raised serious questions about the levels of dust and humidity in the building. Humidity is very low (25 percent). Dark areas around intake and outflow ducts have caused great concern over dust in the ventilation systems.
3/31: Petersen denies insulting Lynn children. Despite having said that Lynn children need to educated so that they can grow up and become good employees for the "masters of industry" from Swampscott, he later denied it, according to a front page article in the Daily Item. When aksed point blank he he did or did not say it, he is quoted as responding, "No, I didn't say it. Absolutely not." then he back tracked saying later that he wasn't denying making the comments but that "I took issue with the way it was phrased." Chairman of the Board of Selectmen in Swampscott stated that Petersen owed an apology to the children and parents of both Lynn and Swampscott. But Petersen, proving beyond a shadow of doubt that he does really get the nature of the damage his comments have wrought, asked, "Why is what I said an insult to Swampscott kids?" Meaning apparently that depicting them as future overlords praying on a weaker neighboring community, was a good thing; or that the anger and embarrassment caused to the parents and children of Swampscott with comments that were insensitive at best and bigoted at worse was not a problem, according to Petersen's befuddlement.
3/30/07: A Vote of the Chief is Coming. Well, it's going to be done in public and that's a good thing. On a motion by Selectman Jackie Belf-Becker, the vote apparently will be taken at the Selectmen's meeting of April 11, following a review by Marc Miller, Town Counsel and then some pre-submitted interview questions. The Selectmen will b allowed to follow-up with unrehearsed questions if they choose. The four candidates are: Lieutenants Matt Freeman, Mark Mills, Robert Picariello, and David Millett. Harry Christensen will once again (after already perhaps a record of recusals for any Selectman in history) recuse himself from the vote for Chief of Police. Mark Mills is a relative.
3/29: Petersen Steps In It. Again. "At no point has anyone from Swampscott ever called me, nor will they ever call me to get their child into a Lynn School," Representative Petersen said. He went on to say that a lot Swampscott kids are going to be captains of industry someday and you want those Lynn kids to be educated because they are your future employees. "My statement was not a commentary on Lynn kids," he said as reported in the Daily Item. Now that's a true statement. His comments were a commentary on him and his obviously elitist views. "I know from the stack of e-mails I have that there is a lot of resentment from people in Swampscott about the amount of state aid Lynn receives. I was trying to help the Swamscott parents realize the kids in Lynn need the state money they receive and they should not resent them." Again, Representative Petersen seems to be transferring his problems to his constituents, the opposite of leadership. The parents of Swampscott want more help for their schools and are looking to HIM to get it done, not to take deserved help from the struggling district in neighboring Lynn. But we suppose that Representative Petersen missed that point as he was intemperately blaming others and feeding prejudice from his bully pulpit. But to be fair, it was all probably taken "out of context."
3/27: DOE rules that teachers should not vote on Commeret's contract. The trumped-up vote (6 to 5) to retain Thomas Commeret as Headmaster of the Charter School may not stand in the light of the Department of Education's stance that employees and that includes teachers should not vote on such a contract regardless of whether or not they "forgo" their salaries at the time of the vote. This could easily reverse the previous vote and end Commeret's tumultous tenure.
3/23: Charter School erupts in dissension and name calling. A split and angry Board of Trustees, an embattled and stubborn headmaster, parents outraged and embarassed, students confused and some leaving the school, and a Town surprised and wondering what is going to happen ... this is the Marblehead Chart Public School today. Once touted as a "new example" for education with un-licensed teachers, no protective union, and non-educator oversees without Town oversight in any way, the Charter School has sunk into the quagmire that many proedicted at the outset. Unable to handle this problem themselves the parents, trustees, administration and teachers are all heading to Boston for a decision. And, the shadow of loss of the Charter School's charter is hanging over it all. What happened? Thomas Commeret, Headmaster, has encountered several problems including a drunk driving arrest, unpopular curriculum changes, fundraising shortfalls, questions about Commeret's "management ethics," [The Reporter], resignations of two of the school's treasurers, lack of accounting transparency, and conflicts of interest in hiring and other areas. Some of the school's teachers don't even have college degrees. There has been an increase in DOE complaints filed with the DOE, accusations that Commeret divides people instead of uniting them, lawsuits resulting from unpaid bills with vendors, a highly autocratic and "control freak" style of leadership. After a meeting in which these concerns were publicly voiced, a mass resignation of Trustees ensued with speeches along the way accusing Commeret of bylaw breaches, unnatural resistance to change and new ideas, and of fostering an atmospehere "beyond mere distrust, to one of open hostility among board members." Happy days are not here again at the Charter School. The future waits to be seen and written about.
Breaking the suggested bylaw, that he inspired, that once a person leaves the Board of Selectmen they shall not return, William Woodfin is coming back. Opposed only by the regular election loser Rose McCarthy, he is virtually assured a return to the bid table in Abbot Hall. It does make it seem like the Town is really going nowhere except back to the past. Hey, that's Woodfin's specialty... so as ususal he'll be perfect. He's got our vote.
3/15: McNulty announces he's not running for reelection. 32 years later, one of Marblehead's best known officials is bowing out. Five years on the Library Board of Trustees, 18 years on the Board of Selectmen, and six years as Town clerk is a record of service second to none in Marblehead's history. Robin Michaud, who works in the Clerk's office now, has taken out her papers to replace Tom. He is reported in the Daily Item as having already endorsed her for the post. "I can't imagine anyone more competent for the job than her," McNulty said. He told a reporter that he and his wife, Deb, would like to spend more time traveling, although there's no way he would ever live Marblehead permanently.
Schools and Town accounting concord. After 357 years the School Department and the Town will be on the same accounting system. They said it could never be done, but nontheless, it is done now according to Mr. John McGinn, Town Finance Director, with the signing of a $33,520 contract with Soft Right Sumaria Wednesday night. Tony Sasso, the Town Administrator, said that a lot of work went into the new arrangement. But it's not quite complete yet. The combined payroll system should be ready to roll by the end of this year. These things take time, you know.
2/26: Shribman leaves Board of Selectmen. After eight years, he's calling it quits, but he did say, "I assume my service is not over; just this part of it."
2/26: Shalane Flanagan runs like the wind. After missing an entire track season recovering from foot surgery, Shalane has returned better than ever winning her first indoor national championship. In 2005 she won the outdoor 5000 meter title. In January she shattered the American record by six seconds in the indoor 3,000 with a time of 8:33.25.
2/12/07: Bubier House, Condemned but not dead yet. ouse, Condemned
2/7/07: Arts Festival Unveals its 2007 Logo. Matt Byers won the contest in a competitive field. The Festival introduced the logo at the Logo Premier Party on January 30.
2/6/07: Shovel Your Own Sidewalk Law is "Iced" -- Actually the committee headed by John Whipple, has suggested that the Town try harder to take care of sidewalks. The situation, apparently, had no easy answer. This is also true of all other municipal questions, by the way.
2/22: Congressman John Tierney has the Spirit. In a definite bow to the historic heritage of Marblehead, the Sixth Congressional District incumbant arranged for a copy of the famous Spirit of '76 to be created, with Marblehead's permission, of course, for his office in Washington. Now, how about a little bit of revolution there, John?
2/15: Storm of controversy sweeps over Lead Mills (again). KSS Realty's 44-unit Chapter 40B project just keeps going, despite neighbors' outrage, clean up issues, and now storms pouring over it. The coming architectural behemoth planned for the site is raising runoff issues and claims it is not appropriate for Marblehead. We always liked the space as open space, but that's just us.
2/1/07: Chief James Carney retires. Acting Chief Robert Coyne takes over. He will be missed, but will he miss all of the budget squabbles and long hours? After 34 years, we suspect Jim will enjoy the time with his wife and family.
Leslie Gould leaves Chamber of Commerce and begins we job at The Jewish Community Center. Nine years of her leaderships raised the Chamber's status in Town to a vital part of everything. Her vivacious personality and energy will be missed. Denny Regan will succeeded Leslie as Ms. Gould assumes the new role of Director of the Jewish C0mmunity Center of the
2/12/07: Dr. Cole donates $250,000 to help a museum become a reality. Retired dentist Ray Cole confirmed his role as a true Marbleheader by funding the growth of a museum of Marblehead's maritime history, currently housed in Abbot Hall.
1/7/07: Seawall "repairs" not covered by state funds as promised. Representative Douglas Petersen blamed in on "administrative changes," and said that he remains Z"cautiously optimistic" that some state money will still be coming Marblehead's way. To qualify for the $4.2 million, Marblehead would have to the same amount on hand. During his most recent contested reelection, Petersen was accused by opponents both within his party and in the Repubican party as well of having "no clout at all" in Boston.