SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

October 25, 2012

Heard Around Town: One more for the road?

By Alan Burke Staff writer
The Salem News

---- — PEABODY — Licensing Board members said no on Monday night, refusing to award a new liquor license to Frank Martino of Martino’s Liquors on a 1-2 vote. But they were a little surprised at their audience.

Martino was asking for a beer and wine license after having sold his all-alcoholic license to Trader Joe’s for $200,000. Given that he’d only owned the license for a year and only paid the city $2,050 for it, the whole exchange created some unease among public officials. During the meeting, board members cited the concerned comments they’d heard — both pro and con — from ordinary citizens and from city councilors.

When the big showdown came, however, they faced it alone.

“I was surprised no one came,” Chairman Minas Dakos said. No angry citizens and no city councilors were in attendance.

On the other hand, concerned citizens might have stayed home to watch the presidential debate. Or the seventh game of the National League playoffs. Or Monday night football. Or “2 Broke Girls.”

‘I’m loving it’

McDonald’s has nothing on Janyce Harkins, Peabody schools food service director. Honored at a reception prior to the School Committee meeting, Harkins noted that she’d been feeding the city’s kids for 42 years.

Someone suggested totaling up just how many meals that would involve, inspiring School Committeeman Dave McGeney to note, “She’s in the McDonald’s area. One billion served.”

McGeney led the ceremony, while noting that Harkins is his first cousin. Mayor Ted Bettencourt also offered his congratulations. And in the age of high-speed computing, it wasn’t long before someone got him the actual number of meals Harkins is likely responsible for.

“We have the answer,” McGeney said. “Twenty-nine million, five hundred and twenty thousand.”

For her part, Harkins paid tribute to the high spirits of her colleagues: “All my girls. ... Nothing ever did my heart better than to walk into one of the schools and hear you all laughing. I love all of you. Every single one of you.”

The Kelly way

There might be an economic slowdown, but it didn’t prevent Brian Kelly of the Kelly Automotive Group from delivering a check for $25,000 to Higgins Middle School and its Boys & Girls Club after-school program. He raised the money by taking $50 from every car sale to a Peabody resident since February.

“I read in The Salem News some time ago that they lost their funding,” Kelly explained.

It touched him, and he decided to do something about it. And he was buoyed by the response yesterday. “The kids were enthusiastic.” And why not? He also told them to see him when the time came to look for jobs.

Kelly didn’t grow up in Peabody, but he has real Peabody ties as the nephew of the Kiley Brothers, World War II heroes whose names are on a Peabody school.

Moving on

Today is the final day on the job for Peabody YMCA Director Greg Griffin, 50, who is retiring to his “second home” in Orlando, Fla. A lifelong Peabody resident, Griffin took his first job at the Y at age 13. In 30 years of working for the Y, he was instrumental in the development of the new Peabody YMCA on Lynnfield Street.

“It was never my Y,” he stressed. “It was the community Y.”

He leaves, he told the News, with an expansion just about to get under way and the facility preparing for “the next step” by adapting itself to help in cases of childhood obesity and to work with disabled people and victims of breast cancer.

“It’s more than just bricks,” he said of the building.

“The Y has been an incredible job,” Griffin concluded. “An incredible position.”

He plans to take it easy for a few months before deciding on his future plans. His guitar lessons will be missed.