Weekly News Digest 2003
Previously "Milestones"

Important events in Marblehead since the inception of legendinc.com, as reported in the Daily Evening Item, the Salem Evening News, the Marblehead Reporter, and The Boston Globe, among other resources, including the official Selectmen's Minutes.

December 25: Marblehead Highlands decision: 21 affordable units and 84 luxury, high end condos. The developer is not really happy, the neighbors are definitely not happy (they are appealing), and ZBA feels it has done the best it could. "I think we're gald it's over, said David Bennet, as reported in a front page article in The Marblehead Reporter. He is a Zoning Board of Appeals member.

December 18
: The Town's Financial picture isn't so good, according to Bart Snow, the Town Finance Director. A budget deficit of $2.8 million is in the offing.

Incumbent State Representative, Doug Petersen, may be facing a challenge or two this year. Swamscott Selectman Marc Paster, a Democrat, and Sharon Randall, a Republican, are both considering running for the seat in 2004. Amid speculation, fueled by Paster that Representative Petersen might not be seeking reelection, Petersen moved to quickly dispel any question by stating he definitely is running. Neither Paster or Randall have official declared.

December 11: Marblehead loses power for over two hours due to a tremendous storm that hit the town on Saturday and Sunday dumping over 29 inches of snow and thrashing the Town with near-hurricane velocity winds. The Christmas Walk was affected, including the annual parade which was cancelled.

The police, in cooperation with High School and School Deparrtment officials, staged a "lock-down" at the high school, keeping students in their classes for over two hours and discovering small amounts of marijuana. Two students were suspended and face legal action.

December 4:
A new developer is chosen for the former Lead Mills site, abandoning the idea of a large (55-bed) assisted living facility. The Kennedy Family is rumored to be part of the new luxury condo proposal.

The Christmas Walk begins Decmber 5th.

Marblehead loses the Thanksgiving Game 35-21. As of now the total scores of all games are: As of 2003: Marblehead (45 wins) Swampscott (43 wins) Seven Ties, so overall, we are still ahead.

November 27:
The Selectmen OK a change in the location of the fireworks on the Fourth Of July: this year the barge will be near themouth of the harbor. Last year, the barge was supposed to be placed off of Goldthwaite Beach but because of water depth it had to be moved closer to Tinkers, where visibility for much of the Town was impossible. Experts stated that the only obstacle to a successful fireworks in 2004, and probably the best in history, would be bad weather making the use of a barge impossible.|

The Town's High School football team is preparing for the 94th matchup with Swampscott on Thanksgiving Day, at the time of this report.

November 20:
Charter School officials announced they were adding a fourth grade. This was in response to the reorganization of the Marblehead Public Schools into four levels: (1) elementary schools, grades one to three, (2) the Village School, grades four to six, (3) The Marblehead Academy, grades seven and eight, and the High School. Charter School officials acknowledged, as Reporter in the marblehead Reporter, the difficulty parents would have in sending their children to the Marblehead Public Schools for the fourth grade and then, after only one year, transfering to the Charter School (also technically a "public school" but one that operates completely outside of the standard district and its regulations and credentials). With the addition of a fourth grade, The Charter school realigns to the public school organization. Some have speculated that if it did not, it could have lost a substantial portion of its Marblehead base. But even with the new grade addition, the competition is stiffening for the Charter School. The new facilities, smaller schools and vastly improved and modernized facilities and athletic fields of the public schools may well have the same effect regardless of how many changes the Charter School offers in its small facility off Green Street. That situation will become more apparent in the months after both schools prepare for the school year 2004-2005.

November 13:
The Northshore YMCA has purchased 19.5 acres of Salem and Marblehead land off Leggs Hill Road and plans to build a 50,000 to 60,000 square foot facility to replace the old Marblehead/Swampscott YMCA on Pleasant and Essex Streets in Marblehead. The neighborhoods are organized to monitor and if neccesary oppose the project. Traffic, congestion and the size and scope of the facility are in the crosshairs.

November 6:
Town begins to celebrate Veterans Day with a nice series on Veterans of WWI, WWII, and Vietnamin the Reporter.

The reopening of the Town's clam beds has been delayed by heavy rains and runoff unusual for this time of year. Wayne Attridge, Health Director, stated that he was hoping for a short delay.

November 5: (The Salem Evening News) A spectacular kitchen fires threatens the infamous Riptide Lounge, at 116 Pleasant Street, with total destruction. But, the quick work of the Marblehead Fire Department, saved the building and prevented the fire from spreading.

October 30:
Peach Highlands project, "Marblehead Highlands," nears a compromise solution after months and many acrimonious meetings which included the ouster of the Zoning Board of Appeals Chairman. From 95 units to 80 was the trick to get tentative approval at the ZBA. More to come.

And, speaking of 40-B (affordable housing: The Comprehensive Permit Law, which pushes aside all local municipal regulatory boards for Towns that have not met the 10% requirement for affordable housing units, or that do not have a Housing Plan in place) the current owner of the "Lead Mills" property is saying in the Marblehead Reporter that there is "notable" interest in the property. And he mentions "dense" plans. More 40-B applications on the way? More in the future.

October 16: Marblehead:
"Home of the 'Inch Worm" crayon? Kelly Schneider, a Marblehead sixth-grader has "won" the competition to name a new green crayon for the Crayola Corporation in it 100th Year celebration. Ms. Schneider's name was selected from over 100,000 entrants.

For the first time in 10-plus years, Marblehead's clam beds along the length of Devereux and Goldthwaite beaches are open, November 1st.

October 9: Michael Kobialka, involved and arrested in the vehicular death of Christina Rondinelli on west Shore Drive around 1:00 a.m, is behind bars after pleading "not guilty" to all charges. His bail has been revoked due to prior charge violations.

Preparations and registrations continue for the First Annual Selectmen's Golf Tournament to be held on November 3 at Tedesco Country Club, who is donating the club's course for the event. Plans are to use the money to purchase an extensive network of life-saving defibrillation devices to be place around Marblehead at strategic public and private locations.

October 2:
Marblehead High School graduate (2002), Christina Rondinelli was killed in a high speed automobile accident on West Shore Drive in the early morning hours yesterday. The actual causes of the accident are under investigation, and Michael Kobialka, 25, was arrested on the scene and was charged with driving while under the influence of alcohol, speeding, possession of an open container of alcohol among other charges.

September 25:
Glover Estates' owner gives up on the idea of an assisted living facility at site of the Old Lead Mills. Richard Bane, owner and developer of the proposed site, stated (as Reported in the Marblehead Reporter this week), "The market has drastically changed over the last three years. Local seniors seem to be staying home longer and deferring, if not eliminating the need for facilities like the one we had originally planned." Mr. Bane stated he is looking for "alternate projects" and sustained his promise to clean the site up.

September 18:
Mamadou's famous AIDS quilt came to Marblehead this week and will be on display at Abbot Hall. The quilt commemorates the 25 million people who have died with the disease and the 65 million who are infected worldwide.

In a last minute surprise the Harbors & Waters Board asked the Selectmen to approve a reserve fund transfer to help bridge the gap until revenues become available to cover the overage and pay back the Town for the help. Selectmen approved the request which will be forwarded to the Finance Committee for final decisions and disposition.

September 11:
Tuker's Wharf's now-famous building is in the process of beng documented and dismantled to be reassembled at some time in the future at Salem's Heritage Park under the custodianship of the National Park Service.
In Pittsburg, New Hampshire, Marblehead's OKOs won an important muster and finished second overall. This excellent performance occurred at the New England Veteran Fireman's League muster on September 6th.

September 4:
West Nile virus continues to appear in the caracasses of dead Marblehead birds. Well, maybe we should say "birds in Marblehead," because they could be from virtually anywhere including surrounding towns and even more distant locations.

August 28:
Dispelling rumors that have been raging for months, veteran State Legislator, Doug Petersen annouced that he is running for re-election. Petersen has been the highest vote-getter in local elections since he was first elected ten years ago.

August 21:
Despite the huge blackoout in the Northeast, Marblehead, and Massachusetts in general had power without interuption.

The Selectmen announced a year's end deadline for the completion of the removal of the wires and utilities poles in parts of Downtown.

Local businessman and philanthropist Rey Moulton has been named the Chamber of Commerce's "Person of the Year" for his dedicated involvement and generosity to the Town over many years.

August 14:
Tyler Hamilton is welcomed triumphantly back to Marblehead to the cheers of nearly two thousand people assembled in Seaside Park at the request of the Selectmen and the MS Society New England.

The Selectmen also proclaimed August 6, 2003 "Tyler Hamilton Day."

August 7:
Marblehead Police Office Cary Gaynor has been charged with domestic assulat in Peabody and was ordered to surrender his firearms and stay away from his wife and his children. He has pleaded "not guilty" to the charges.

July 31:
Tyler Hamilton win Marblehead everlasting respect and admiration with his fourth place finish in the Tour de France, despite a broke collar bone and ribs.

Shubies plans to move it location down the street to the location of the former Texaco Station.

The "Marblehead Highlands" project up on Peach Highlands continues to be a bone of contention with the neighbors united to reduce the size and see that the law is followed to the letter. Thus far, Carl King erstwhile Chairman of the reviewing Zoning Board of Appeals has lost his seat and the confidence of the Board of Selectmen over respect and treatment of the Town's citizens at the meetings. The meetings continue to be widely attended and the heat is not being turned down as the new Chairman, William Moriarty, sits down.
July 24:
Stramski's Beach is closed due to high bacteria counts as measured by the Board of Health. The Town conducts a summer sailing program for young people at the location and this will prohibit participants swimming out to the sailboats. Now, they will have to wait for a ride.

Janet Ritchey-Musser assumed the principalship at Glover and Eveleth schools.

After Town Counsel signs off, Tucker's Wharf, or Pedrick's warehouse will be on the way to Salem's Heritage Park.

The Sailing World National Offshore One Design Regatta began this week during the Annual Marblehead Race Week.

July 17: Tucker's Wharf's final destination -- either the dump and Ebay, or the United States Park Service's historic site, Heritage Park in Salem -- is soon to be decided. Let's hope it goes the the Park Service. The Friends of Tucker's Wharf who always opposed the demolition of the building are close to success. But not quite yet.

There was excellent coverage of Glover's Regiment's annual "Encampment" at Fort Sewall in this week's Reporter.

July 10:
The 38th Festival of the Arts was considered to be a big success.

The Fourth Of July "Barge" Fireworks are being considered with mixed reviews. From the Causeway they were great. From Corinthian and Eastern Yacht Clubs, they could not be seen. From Marlehead and Dolphin Yacht Clubs, they could be seen but not heard. The Selectmen are looking into the discontinuity between the theory and the practice of this year's fireworks.

Marblehead's Tyler Hamilton is competing in the Tour de France and doing very well, despite a broken collarbone from a first stage accident. More here.

July 3:
Marblehead and Swampscott are collaborting on a new ice and skating rink in Swampscott. Hopefully, the new rink will be open by Spring of 2004.

June 26:
Marblehead Librarians question the Patriot Act's restrictions and the Supreme Court's recent ruling granting Congress the ability to tie federal assistance to the installation of Internet-filtering software. Considering it an issue privacy for library users, they, like Librarians all over America, are struggling with the dilemma of funding or privacy.

Carl King, Chairman of the Zoning Board of Appeals was not reappointed by a 4 to 1 vote of the Board of Selectmen. Ordinarily reappointments are made on the first Wednesday after Town Elections but Selectmen Harry Christensen and Judy Jacobi "held" King's reappointment. Voting against reappointment were: Christensen, Jacobi, Purdin and Woodfin. In favor of reappointment was: Chairman Shribman.

After virtually years of delays and political machinations, the Harbors & Waters Board finally received a green light to construct a new building at Tucker's Wharf at this year's Town Meeting. But what to do with the old building. The US Park Service and the Town have reached an agreement to move the building over to Heritage Park in Salem.

Selectmen proceeded with plans to hold the first-ever barge fireworks on the Fourth Of July, allowing the Causeway to stay open almost until the fireworks begin.

June 19:
Marblehead voters override 2.5 for the first time for general government expenses, saving curbside trash and public education and safety budgets. Slightly more than 12,536 voters voted in the special election on a sunny Monday, according to the Marblehead Reporter.

June 12:
A Temple Beth El preschool teacher, 48-year-old Christine Perkins, died of bacterial meningitis on Friday, suddenly, shocking the Town and temple. The override election to either override proposition 2.5 and sve curbside trash as a Town service, along with education and public safety budget issues, goes into the final stretch this week before a vote on June 16th. Much discussion, but the pros say this one will pass.

The first graduating class from the new high school graduated on June 8th. Congressman John Tierney was the keynote speaker.

June 5:
Light Commissioner Wilbur Bassett receives "Censure" from the Light Commission for an argument he had with the department manager. Despite, or perhaps because of, Mr. Bassett's championing of the enlargement of the Commission to five commissioners, his determined and successful search for $400,000 in "surplus" that the department could give to the Town to offset huge structural deficits, and his unrelenting questioning of department activities and expenditures, the commissioners (who voted in favor of Mr. Bassett's financial initative) registered dismay and an official rebuke. In an interview, Mr. Bassett said it didn't bother him and that he would proceed regardless of the censure.

May 29:
Town turns out in a pouring rain for Memorial Day Parade. Selectmen priase the Town's support and the quality of the event.

Abbot Public Library officials are pondering the privacy implications of the "Patriot Act" passed in the wake of September 11th, authorizes the FBI to go into public libraries and demand records of patrons without any evidence that a patron has done anything wrong. Libraries across the country are all confronted with this dilemma.

The Campaign to pass the override for "Town Services" on June 16th is underway with former Finance Committee Chairman James Dearborn leading the charge.

May 22:
ZBA Chairman's reappointment is held by Board Of Selectmen, perhaps delaying the development of Marblehead Highlands.

The School Committee votes down School Choice again.

May 15:
Incumbents (Goodman and Rosenthal) win in Board of Health and School Committee races, Override vote set for June 16th, Tucker's Wharf (Pedrick's Privateer Base) is down, but is it out of Town... that remains to be seen as "Friends" seek advice and ponder Salem's offer to come and get the building for Heritage Park.

May 8:
Looking for fake ID factory, Marblehead police find a small drug factury and a pipe bomb on Waldron Court. Police arrested Natheniel E. Morong, according to the Marblehead Reporter. He was held in the Middleton Jail without bail over the weekend.

After a lengthy debate at Town Meeting, attendees apparently voted to demolish the historic building on Tucker's Wharf, which was hand built in the 1700s. The vote count as announced was 3 votes short of a 1/3 "no" vote required to stop the demolition. The vote, according to supporters of the building, was very confusing and some held that the Moderator, Steve Howe, mishandled the situation. The vote was recorded 406 favoring, 195 opposed. A two thrids vote is 396, and 195 represents 390 doubled. 6 votes, or a shift of 3 votes from favor to oppose. A "favor" vote meant demolition. The building is under the control of the Harbors & Waters Board which has indicated the building will be removed at the earliest possible date.

Town Meeting also approved a $1.4 million general override. The Selectmen announced that they would meet and set the single override question and date, probably June 16th, for the election.

Town elections will be held on Monday.

May 1: Pay-As-You-Throw is junked due to opposition and the prospect of an after-Town-Meeting referendum, which now makes the prospect of a general override containing trash services more likely.

April 24: Selectmen call for an override in a unanimous vote followed by comments in which Harry Christensen (quoted in the Marblehead Reporter) said, "Honest to God, people, listen to me. There's no rabbit in the hat this year. We're in very serious trouble." Mr. Christensen's sentiments were echoed by all other members.

April 17:
Selectmen split 2-2 on Pay As You Throw (Shribman, Jacobi - favor. Christensen, Woodfin - opposed). Mr. Purdin was out of Town due to a sudden death in his family, but said later that he would have voted "Yes," that night. The split vote came at a time when more opposition to the plan of tagging trash bags and charging on a per-bag basis was surfacing in Town.

April 10:
The Town is facing layoffs, loss of curbside trash, educational cuts in arts, music and sports, police and fire cutbacks and... well you name it. In a recent meeting of the Board of Selectmen, there was unprecidented unanimity that the Town needs a general override of Proposition 2.5.

April 3:
Finance Committee members agree that the Town cannot afford the payraises recently negotiated by the Board of Selectmen and the School Committee. Faced with layoffs and an iffy proposal for Pay-As-You-Throw curbside trash revenue, the FinCom is worried and trying to keep the Town abreast of the potential problems that may arise. All boards and officials continue to work on the problem.

Yellow ribbons have appeared all over Town as symbols of support for the troops in Iraq and the soldiers who have been captured or are missing.

Fort Sewall renonvations to begin soon. In accordance with the plans presented at Town Meeting a year ago, and funded by a debt exclusion which passed last June, work will soon begin at Fort Sewall on the new handicap accessible bathrooms and other renovations. The Fort Sewall Oversight Committee will be presenting the scope of the project to the Board of Selectmen in the near future.

March 27: Highly popular Marblehead High School principal, Marilyn Hurwitz, suddenly became the frontrunning finalist in the job search for a pricipal for Salem High School. In the midst of a stir, Town officials were searching for possible solutions.

During an apparent "joy ride" someone inflicted over $20,000 worth of damage to the baseball diamond at Seaside Park.

March 20:
War comes in Iraq. Town has tons of support for the troops, but when it comes to the policies of the Bush administration, it's not unanimous.

March 13:
School consider trimming seven jobs to help bridge deficit.

Hector's Pub closes after 30 years of serving Town's children (and parents).

Marblehead Regional Champion Girls Basketball Team missed the Eastern Massachusetts title after a close game in Foxboro, but the Town celebrated anyway.

March 6:
Town has an apparent $3 million deficit caused by health insurance, Governor Romney's cuts in state aid. Solutions? Restructuring the interest on school building debt exclusion loans, $770,000 from the proposed new Pay-As-You-Throw curbside trash charging system, but that doesn't solve it all. Debate in Town is rampant on the trash proposal and as usual there are people who just don't want any new taxes, fees or increases.

Tucker's Wharf: despite new revelations about the origins and history of the building presented by renowned historian Bob Booth, the Harbors and Waters Board is planning to demolish the building via an article at Town Meeting. But who knows what TM will do?

February 27:
A massive, four-alarm fire, consumes the Gregory Building destroying businesses and unsettling the Town. One police office was injured during the fire, and a firefighter, Jim Carey, fought until the early morning hours on his last day before retirement. At the corners of Essex, School, and Atlantic Avenue, the building house Tony's Pizza and the offices of Marblehead Photographer Rick Ashley, among others. Nothing inside the building was saved as the fire spread quickly, out of control. It was to the credit of the Marblehead Fire Department and many other departments, including surrounding Town's, that the fire didn't spread to other buildings in the area. See Salem Evening News Photo.

February 20:
Town continues to struggle through one of the toughest winters in memory with record snow levels, and icy cold.

Peter Franklin announced his intention to run for the School Committee, challenging veteran member Joan Rosenthal.

The Board of Selectmen voted to allow the annual Fourth of July fireworks to be fired off from a barge for the first time in history. It will allow for a larger, higher display and it will keep the Causeway open. It was a unianimous vote.

February 13:
School Nurses are confronted with crippling cuts in State grants.

Governor Romney takes a stand and denies a 2006 extension of the previous cleanup date of 2004 of the Salem Power Plant. Local environmentalists cheer, workers at the Station and Salem officials jeer.

Harbors and Waters Board announces that it will shelf, for now, plans to build a yachting pier at Stramski's Playground (or Gerry). Local opposition was enormous, and the Conservation Commission refused to approve the plan due to missing information and the lack of a comprehensive overview of the Tucker's Wharf area.

February 6:
Marblehead Mourns the loss of the shuttle Columbia.

January 30:
In a surprise to residents Superintendent of Schools, Ellen Minihan acknowledged that she had raised the salaries of two central administrators, George Gearhart and Robert Bellucci by 9.1 percent and 23 percent, respectively. She argued that the raises were justified to stay in line with comparable communities and to compensate them both for increased responsibilities. The Chairman of the Board of Selectmen, while having "no comment," on the raised, did state, as reported in the Marbehead Reporter, that "the timing is very poor," refering to the budget process now underway in which Marblehead is in serious deficit in the current fiscal year and looking at the worse cuts in decades for the the next. Recently all contracts in town were ratified with minimal payraises in the 2 and 3 percent per year range.

Town Meeting will once again be confronted with a request to demolish the Blackler Salt shed at Tuckers. The request has been rejected by Town Meeting attendees in the past, three times. But, every year Town Meeting is important and unpredictable. Stay tuned.

January 23: Is the Town facing layoffs in 2003? Finance Committee and local officials are ruling nothing out.

The Conservation determined that wetlands are not present at the new condominium development off Lime Street, which has an affordable housing component. For those opposing the development, this was a set-back. For the developer, it was a green light.

At the same meeting the Conservation Committee chastised the Harbors & Waters Board for coming before them with incomplete application information and a premature proposal that did not include a comprehensive look at the entire area and scope of the project. The hearing will be rescheduled.

January 16: The Finance Director is projecting a $2 million deficit for fiscal year 2004. Remedies may include a pay per throw trash collection fee and some potential layoffs or non-replaced retirements.

The Board of Selectmen approved a new design for replacing the Causeway at $5.6 million. The work will take more than a year and will begin in about one year.

January 9
: State funding for the schools SPED program is decreasing, apparently, by $75,000, and that gives the Town more grief during an already difficult budget period. SPED costs are essentiall "uncontrollables" because of the nature of the mandating legislation. One student moving to Town and qualifying can cost the Town almost any amount of money including many tens of thousands per student. As always Town officials are mashalling all the resources to find solutions.

Former Pueblo Skipper Lloyd Bucher appeared before various groups in Marblehead, discussing his life and his wartime imprisonment in a speech entitled, "What's Right With America."

January 2:
The financial picture for the Town dims as the weakening economy and its effects are starting to kick in. As reported in the Marblehead Reporter, Town Administrator Tony Sasso said, "I thnk it will be more difficult this year than it has been in the past 10 or 11 years."

2002 * 200120001999 -1996 • Also see our Marblehead Police Log.