Weekly News Digest 2004
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 30: Flood disrupts seniors at Roads School facility, early Wednesday. Due to cold weather, as in the case of the Middle School, pipes burst causing damage and dislocations.

The candidate who lost by one vote after a second recount (she won the first recount) to John Liming, Gretchen Vona, is running again. Liming later admitted to falsifying his election resume, and has been hounded by his colleagues' urging him to resign, and by citizens demanding it. He is apparently undeterred and has announced that he is running for releection.

The Selectmen are considering an unusual Special Town meeting to present the Town with a budget-assisting proposal for "Pay As You Throw" curbside trash disposal system. Historically, Special Town Meetings are called to solve budget problems that cannot wait for Annual Town Meeting. This same proposal was rejected at lasts year's Annual Meeting, But, due to this year's increasingly complex and deteorating budget situation, it is again coming to the Town for another pass. Selectmen John Liming is opposed and leading the opposition to the plan's resurrection.

A bevy of departures confronts the Town this year in addition to the loss of Selectmen Bill Woodfin and Bill Purdin last year: Paul Lausier, Town Counsel for 47 years; Warner Hazell, Harbormaster, Bart Snow, Town Finance Director and employee for 37 years, George Gearhart, the unflappable and defatigable Assistant Superintendent of Schools, and Steve Howe, Town Moderator for 43 years. All of this could have been much more difficult if the departure of Town Administrator Tony Sasso to the Town of Belmont had not been avoided.

The year ended with a lot of "carryover" questions.

December 23: The new Marblehead Veterans Memorial Middle School (MVMS) despite its recent opening, applauded for being "on time, on budget" experienced a serious pipe burst this week, perhaps because of a "no heat" situation in the heating plant. An "enormous" amount of water (reported in the local press) spread throughout the cafeteria, cancelling after and evening programs on Tuesday. The $23.2 million facility's cost for repair was not known.

Budgetwise, the Town is currently facing a $1.7 million deficit in its operating budget, but it was declared "great," by Chairman Judy Jacobi, as compared to previous years, but still a problem for the Town, as reported in a front page article in the Reporter.

December 18: Fireworks are back. In an era of extreme fiscal crisis and program cutbacks from the schools to fire and police, Marblehead's annual fireworks spree is back on. Somethings cannot be eliminated, it seems. Last year, the fireworks were nixed by the Board because of the overtime it generated in police and fire manning. Last year, Town unions and workers all deferred raises and faced layoffs. This year, once again, raises and contract negotiations are problematic and uncertain, but after intense negotiations, both chiefs have acquiesced to the popular demand for the annual celebration, despite the budget estimate of $9,700, which is hoped to be covered by the Fireworks Committee and private donations.

A hapless bank robber, broke into the National Grand bank, cutting his hands and arms, trailed blood through the bank, left empty-handed, and filled into the custody of Marblehead police.

Jackie Belf-Becker announced for Selectmen this week.

December 9: Shubies "New" market on Atlantic Avenue is stirring up the architectural "brew" in town ... and not everyone is happy. Some say it is stylish and improves the look of the avenue, while others say it looks like a "warehouse" in the shadow of "Fort Fagone." The new group that is aiming at improving business in the area, named "20/20," stated, as reported in the local press, that it was less important how the building than the positive effect it will have on business vitality in the area. Still, the "new" Shubies, is something quite different from the little liquor store attached to the "old" Shubies of lore at the corner of Atlantic Avenue and Prospect Street. As the Town changes people are expressing their opinions both in voice and in where they reach into their wallets and pocketbooks.

The Cape Wind project in Nantucket Sound came up at the Board of Selectmen for their vote of support or non-support. But, perhaps in a surprise to no one, no decision was made. As quoted in the Marblehead Reporter's article by Kris Olsen, Chairman Judy Jacob stated that a decision was "a bit premature for us t take a stand." Former CBS anchorman, Walter Cronkite, recently reversed his opposition and stated his support after careful investigation. This was not persuasive to the Marblehead Board.

December 2: Marblehead is confronted with excrescent growth in construction and development including the recent "Maple Estates" off of Lafayette Street and the coming prospects of 40-B developments on the old Lead Mills property and off of Humphrey Street, near Brookhouse Drive, on the site of two formerly single family residences. 40-B projects are exempt from local ovesight regulatory authorities, and are proving to be a temptation few developers can resist.

James Hourihan, former Chairman of the Finance Committee, member of the Board of Selecmen, and long-time Town activist, passed on, on November 23. Family, friends, and a host of Marblehead officials attended his funeral and attested to his service and value to our community.

November 25: After nearly losing the popular and effective Town Administrator to Belmont in a recent "headhunt" that town conducted, the Selectmen, like the little Dutch Boy sticking his finger in the dike, have worked out a contract arrangement to head off further such events. While the payraises, in Town Administrators terms statewide, are modest, Mr. Sasso seemed happy and ready to get back to business. He made it clear that he did not ask for the adjustments, and that the Selectmen offered it to him. The Belmont Town Administrator is currently making $140,000 per year. Tony's salary, over the next few years, will rise to $125,000 (in FY 2007).

November 18: The two Marblehead Rotary clubs, led in the case of the older club by ever-active and always willing, Tony Sasso, Marblehead's veteran Town Administrator, and in case of the Harbor club, by Abbot Public Library director, Bonnie Strong, donated and just completed the installation of a new band stand at Crocker Park. The new facility will increase the ease of conducting outdoor concerts at the Park during the warm evenings of summer.

November 11: The District Attorney says the inquest into John Liming's falsification of his election biogrpahy in the most recent Town election (in May) was not of such urgency and consequence that a criminal inquest would be convened. The local attorney, Sean Connolly, who is pursuing Liming's legimacy to serve in the office of Selectmen, vowed to battle on, to get Liming, "to do the right thing," as reported in the local press.

November 4: Petersen wins reelection to his seventh term in the House, defeating easily his energetic opponent, Sharon Randall of Marblehead. Kerry carries the Town in the Presidential election.

The group that saved Tucker's Wharf from the trash heap and saw that the building would be dismantled, categorized and reassembled at some future date in Salem's Heritage Park by the National Park Service, won an award for their efforts. The "Pioneers in Partnership" award went to the group headed by Peter Sorlein, and was sponsored by the National Park Service.

October 28: The election nears its conclusion Petersen and his enthusiastic opponent, Sharon Randall, faced off at Temple Emanu-El in Marblehead. While no clear result emerged, the incumbent remains an overwhelming favorite to win by an easy margin. However, the campaigns are spending at record levels in a hotly contested election ... at least in terms of previous years.

October 21: John Liming is quoted in the Reporter as saying that he is going through the Board of Selectmen votes, "Day by day." Will Gallien, of Gerald Road, called on Mr. Liming not to vote on any issues before the Board until the issue is resolved.

The Marblehead Forever Committee has awarded its annual "Forever" Award to Virginia Gamage, former Town Historian, author, member of municipal committees, and perhaps the foremost Marblehead alive today. Her service to the Town is distibguished and encompasses well over half a century.

October 14: State Representative candidates, Douglas Petersen, the incumbent and Sharon Randall, the challenger, confronted each other over taxes at a debate at Swampscott High School. Voters voted to roll back income taxes to 5% but the current office holders are hesitant to implement the cutback when money is so tight for municipalities and state aid. The Republican was firm in her conviction that the people had spoken.

October 7: The Board of Selectmen voted three to nothing (John Liming abstaining, and Harry Christensen absent) to call for Mr. Liming to resign over his untrue statements on his election resume. Each member of the Board spoke at some length condemning their colleague's recalcitrance in this matter.

The driver who struck and killed Holly Pierce on August 12 in Vinnin Square, Alex Marino, has pleaded "not guilty" to charges stemming from the accident.

September 30: Residents who toured the new Marblehead Veterans Middle School were duly impressed with the new educational facility. 435 students are enrolled in the school, which cost the Town $21.6 million.

Abbot Public Library celebrated its 50th anniversary.

September 23: Marblehead's most famous reisdent (in modern times), Tyler Hamilton has become engorged on the doping sword that hangs over so much of contemporary sports figures today. He denies it, but as the Reporter headline had it, these are "trying times for Tyler."

Tony Sasso, the popular Town Administrator, appeared before the Board of Selectmen in Winchester to advance his candidacy for that position there. Decision on who the Board will hire is pending in a week or so. Residents and officials of Marblehead were aware of Mr. Sasso's application and alarmed at the implications of losing his services to Marblehead.

September 16: Petersen wins the Democratic Primary handily defeating Marc Paster. In Marblehead it was 79% to 21%, with similar ratios (although less in spread) in Swampscott and Lynn.

Residents were given an opportunity to let John Liming feel their support or lack thereof at the Board of Selectmen's meeting this week. Overwhelmingly the sentiment was that he should go, but Mr. Liming was not without his supporters as well.

Town Historian, Bette Hunt, was named "Person of the Year," by The Marblehead Chamber of Commerce.

September 9
: A petition calling for John Liming's resignation was placed before the Board of Selectmen: 103 citizen signature affixed.

The Reporter and Lynn Item endorsed Doug Petersen for reelection to the State Legislature while the Salem News endorsed his opponent, Marc Paster of Swampscott.

September 2: Mr. Liming, elected to the Board in a recount by one vote over Gretchen Vona, repeated his apology to the Town for misrepresenting his educational qualifications during the election. He refused, again, to step down.

August 26: Selectman John Liming admits to lying on his election resume about his education. He claimed a Master's Degree from UMass and a bachelor's degree from Florida State University. Not. He has stated that he will not step down regardless of these revelations.

August 19
: In a tradegy that shocked the Town, Holly Pierce, daughter of popular art teacher, Steve Pierce and his wife Kacy, was struck by a car in Vinnin Square and killed on Saturday, August 14th at 9:54 p.m. She was crossing the street at the lights between the Swampscott Mall and Vinnin Square Mall. Her mother was waiting for her at Marshalls. Hundreds of people kept a vigil at the site for several days afterward and a memorial continues at the site at this writing. Her funeral was attended by perhaps a thousand people and brought the Town to a standstill.

Selectman John Liming, recently elected in a recount by one vote, announced that he would like to be in the running for Harbormaster. The Board votes on this position and some looked askance at this announcement.

An article appeared in the Reporter, by Bette Keva, honoring the retirement of Brian O'Neill for his service as an elementary school teacher for 37 years.

August 12: The Conservation Commission is embroiled in a debate over the accessibility of Ware Pond for disabled citizens. Accusations that the Commission and the
Marblehead Conservancy had formed an unholy "duopoly" by former Conservation Commission Chairman, Dennis Curtin, "shocked and disappointed" commisioners, according to an article in the Marblehead Reporter.

August 6: Christina Dietel, 21, of Marblehead is vying for the title of Miss Massachusetts and a chance to participate in the Miss USA pageant.

July 29:
A series of arson fires sweeps the Town. The fires were set in in buildings as well as in recycling bins and trash barrels. The police and fire department are hot on the trail of the arsonist(s).

July 22:
Stramski's beach, on Salem Sound, is closed by the Board of Health because of bateria count.

July 15:
Marblehead Shalane Flanagan qualifies for the Athens Olympics in running.

July 8:
A violent lightning storm results in a front page photo in the Reporter (from the Herald) of lightning apparently striking Abbot Hall. In reality the lightning strike was in Beverly.

July 1:
Governor Romney tours Town attempting to boost the flagging candicacy of Republican Sharon Randall who is campaigning for the Eighth district seat currently held by incumbent Doug Petersen.

June 24:
Five override pass (Landfill, Fire Truck, School Expenses, the Transfer Station, and the Library), but three fail (Town vehicle purchases, Police expenses, and the FinCom;'s reserve fund).

June 17:
A wild beer party went bust when police send 42 young (underage) drinkers to court.

June 10:
Town celebrates "Fort Sewall Day," in appreciation of the Committee that oversaw the renovations and improvements.

June 3: Liming Sworn in after historic election recount. He won by one vote.

In an historic election recount John Liming took away the seat of erstwhile Selectman, Gretchen Vona, by one vote as the voting precinct counts as follows:

Princinct 1: Liming 307 then 306; Vona 280 then 280
Pricinct 2: Liming 296 then 296; Vona 209 then 209
Precinct 3: Liming 217 then 217; Vona 204 then 204
Precinct 4: Liming 273 then 270; Vona 294 then 292
Precinct 5: Liming 189 then 190; Vona 297 then 292
Precinct 6: Liming 232 then 233; Vona 290 then 291
Precinct 7: Liming 320 then 319; Vona 262 then 262

Totals: Liming 1,834 then 1,831; Vona 1836 then 1830

Mrs. Vona announced immediately that she would not be seeking another recount. Liming was sworn in at the June 2nd meeting. Gretchen Vona is now recorded as the Selectman with the shortest tenure in the history of Marblehead, since she was actually sworn in on May 12th.

May 17:
Since the swing vote of Chairman Judy Jacobi the Town is facing an eight separate question ballot on the override vote. Departments are bracing for disappointments, after all Town employees have deferred raises for the upcoming year.

May 13:
Drinker, Lederman win seats on School Committee; Liming asks for a recount in an election he apparently lost by two votes. Override vote set for June 21.

May 11:
McNulty joins incumbents Jacobi, Shribman and Christensen; Vona also elected ... perhaps. In the closest election in years, Gretchen Vona ekked out a win over John Liming by only two votes. Because of the closeness Liming has asked for a recount, which could take up to five weeks to complete.

May 6: One night for Town Meeting, when people were talking about three. But in the end it went very quickly.

April 29:
Town Meeting is predicted to go three nights for the first time in years.

A seven alarm fire destroyed an estate on the Neck on Saturday. 11 Foster Street burnt almost to the ground despite the efforts of firefighters from eight communities. A harrowing fire that taxed the departments to limits, the initial investigation seemed to point to electrical causes.

April 22: Selectman Reed Cassidy from Swampscott invited Marblehead to reconsider it's three-to-two decision not to participate in a two-town ambulance service with major savings and upgrades in services.Outlook not good.

Former Marblehead High School Principal, Charles Lovely, died last Tuesday.
April 15:
Philip Devaux leaves the State Representative race against incumbent Dug Petersen, leaving Marc Paster, Democrat of Swampscott, and Sharon Randall, a Republican as the only challengers. Devaux stated business and personal reasons for his withdrawal.

April 8:
Marblehead is named #1 for "Bang for the Buck," by Boston Magazine in the cost of homes and the value of Town services out of all 351 towns and cities in the Commonwealth.

April 1:
After 25 years of dreaming and planning, and six years of hard work, the wire on some of the most historic streets in Town are gone, revealing a very appealing view of Marblehead's past in the present. While some of the poles still remain, a drive up State Street this afternoon was a treat for citizens who have long bemoaned the ugly travesty of overabundant wiring polluting the view. Well, now it's looking good.

March 25:
Thomas McNulty, Town Clerk, announced that he will, once again, run for Selectman. McNulty served 17 years on the Board before retiring in 1998, but this year was persuaded to run to bring his experience to the Board during the challenging year or two ahead.

March 18
: Marblehead Police raided the home at 189 Atlantic Avenue, owned by Joanne Colobani Smith, according to an article in the Marblehead Reported and charged sixteen student including 12 minors with possession of alcohol. The beer had been brought into the house and the party was just getting underway when it was interrupted by the knock on the door.

March 11: Bill Purdin, the senior member of the Board of Selectmen, announced that he will not be seeking another term on the Board at this time. Concluding a career in the Town government and municipal activism, Mr. Purdin stated that he was stepping aside to improve the field this year by offering a two-seat race. "Hopefully, progressive and forward thinking people who have been sitting on the sidelines will now offer themselves for election. The Town needs people who share a vision of the future of Marblehead that includes top quality services, public education, and a community that asks everyone to share in raising public funds for public purposes," he said.

March 4:
Town Democrats vote for John F. Kerry for the Democratic nomination by 70.4%.

February 26:
Selectmen announce that an override will be needed this year to close the $2.8 million budget gap caused by cuts in state aid, increases in health care cost, contractual obligations and the Charter School.

Jodi Fenton announces for Selectmen seat, joing incumbents Shribman, Jacobi, Purdin and Christensen. Woodfin is not running for reelection. She joins Gretchen Vona and John Liming who have announced earlier.

February 19:
No real news this week.

February 12:
Representative Petersen takes a stand against the amendment to ban gay marriage in Massachusetts, in the midst of a constitutional convention in "irons."

Marbleheader Kathleen O'Toole is sworn in as Boston's first female Commissioner.

Budget discussions with the schools find there is still a $1 million gap between the Finance Committee's guidelines and the Superintendent's budget.

February 5: The Selectmen opted out of the idea to "Enterprise Fund" the Trash pickup services of the Town. Last year the Town passed a general override, partially identified as funding curbside trash and some Selectmen felt to jettison the service after that vote would be to go back on the spirit of the vote.

Katherine Prouty and Amy Drinker announced for School Committee. Two seats are up for election: Jonathan Lederman is running for reelection and Pat Pollard announced that she will not be seeking reelection.

March Paster, a Selectman in Swampscott and Phil Devaux, former Marblehead Superintendent of Schools have announced that they will run for the State representative seat currently held by Doug Petersen. Representative Petersen is running for his seventh reelection.

Janaury 29:
Bill Woodfin announces that he will not run for reelection. At the end of the meeting of January 21, Mr Woodfin made the announcement. It was not unexpected and other members of the Board all praised his service and dedication to the Town of Marblehead. First elected in 1993 and reelected in 1994, Woodfin left the Board until 1998 when he returned. He has served a total of eight terms on the Board. The remaining Selectmen, Chairman Jeffrey Shribman, Bill Purdin, Judy Jacobi and Harry Christensen have all indicated their intention to run for reelection.

Marion Gosling passed on this week, a long-time volunteer and historian for the Town, she will be sorely missed. She was 91 years young.

January 22:
Town Departments are expected to submit budgets with 10% cuts to accomodate the Finance Committee's budget deficit projections.

Gretchen Vona anounces for Selectman.

January 15:
Sailmaker Robbie Doyle's company, Doyle Sailmakers, has just completed the largest triangular sail ever made. Ever. With 20,000 hours of work into the project, billed at an even $1 million dollars. To be hoisted on board the Mirabella V, 275 feet long and the largest single masted sailboat in history. The maiden voyage is scheduled in March, according to the Marblehead Reporter.

January 8:
Two local men are leading oppostion to the Patriot Act, which they consider an act that "takes away" the rights of Americans in the name of national security. Russell Lane and Larry Kapko plan to continue to bring the act's problems to the attention of Marblehead residents and to seek a chance to ask the Selectmen to take a position, citing the positions taken by some other municipalities in the Commonwealth.

January 1:
The Reporter published an excellent year end review, entitled, A Year of Tradegy, Triumph

-- The Marblehead Website committee, headed by Selectman Judy Jacobi, is seeking donations to help finish the site work. Reports made to the Board of Selectmen indicate that the site will be extensive and a major component of the Town's communication system when complete.

2003 • 2002 200120001999 -1996 • Also see our Marblehead Police Log.