SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

October 11, 2012

Chalk it up to generosity

By Alan Burke Staff writer
The Salem News

---- — PEABODY — Charity begins in the home, but it can reach all the way to the school.

And the School Committee made note of it, honoring Higgins Middle School student Rachel Ellis at its Tuesday meeting. She collected money from her paper route for two years and then did something extraordinary with it. Instead of buying tickets for a One Direction concert (that’s a boy band), she gave the money away to purchase much-needed school supplies for her fellow classmates.

“I was more than happy to do it,” Rachel told the board Tuesday as her proud parents looked on.

School Committee member Jarrod Hochman hailed her as “a shining example. ... It’s wonderful to see people giving back to our community.”

Member Brandi Carpenter praised her parents.

Member Beverley Dunne confirmed that Rachel’s unselfish actions are a credit to the teaching at the Peabody schools.

A lot of applesauce

Janyce Harkins, the Peabody Public Schools food service director, is retiring after 42 years of keeping the city’s kids well-fed and well-nourished. A Peabody resident, she will be celebrated prior to the next School Committee meeting, Oct. 23, with a reception.

Doesn’t smell like home

City Councilor Barry Sinewitz doesn’t mince words at meetings. While contemplating a zoning change for the area near the city’s landfill at a recent meeting, he ridiculed the notion of building homes there.

“I drove by there the other day, and the smell coming from that dump was horrendous. ... Imagine coming home to it.”

Don’t label me

It looks like a busy Election Day coming up, according to City Clerk Tim Spanos, who predicts a heavy turnout in November.

He reminds citizens that they have until Wednesday, Oct. 17 (that’s next week — and the office will be open from 8:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. that last day) to register. If you do, welcome to the club. As of yesterday, 884 new voters had registered, compared to the fewer than 200 one might expect in a nonpresidential election year..

The breakdown could offer some comfort to Democrats, with 324 people expressing allegiance to the nation’s oldest political party. Only 79 pledged their loyalty to the Republicans. But it was a third group that could hold the key to any election, with 481 independent spirits proclaiming themselves unenrolled.

Bettencourt holds court

Just back from a vacation at Disney World with his young family, Mayor Ted Bettencourt has returned to the grind of running the city. It hasn’t prevented the former Peabody High and Holy Cross basketball star from sizing up the coming season for the Boston Celts.

“I’m all in for the Celtics,” he says. “I think they’re a title contender again. Though, I am sad to see Ray Allen go.” (The high-scoring guard signed with Miami.)

The mayor isn’t going to toss out a good thing just because it’s old. There’s still life in center Kevin Garnett, he insists. “Last year, down the stretch and in the playoffs, he was as good as he’s ever been.” Just give him a lot of rest.

Bettencourt acknowledges that he’s not the only hoopster holding office. He points to fellow Mayor Kim Driscoll of Salem, who “wasn’t a bad basketball player.” But he jokes that “she’s not the best basketball-playing mayor on the North Shore anymore.”

Culture talk

Some Leather City advocates took poorly a suggestion in a recent Salem News article from Patricia Zaido of The Salem Partnership that one barrier to a thriving downtown Peabody is a lack of culture — in contrast to Salem’s theaters, art galleries and, well, perhaps witches. The Peabody Cultural Collaborative, featuring organizers Deanne Healey, Martha Holden, Gerry McCarthy and Karen Sawyer, is planning to push back. More to come.