, Salem, MA

February 14, 2014

Casino-crazed state cracks down on Salem gambling


---- — SALEM — And now for a word about gambling.

What was going on at the Witch City VFW Post this fall was wrong, wrong, wrong. Football betting cards are not allowed, especially when the winnings are in the thousands of dollars, and the Salem police and Licensing Board had little choice this week but to lower the boom.

But it is a head-scratcher when the long hand of the state — in this case in the person of the Alcoholic Beverages Control Commission — smacks a little veterans post, while its other hand is raking in millions of dollars in lottery loot and its head is plotting to open a zillion dollars worth of resort casinos and slot parlors.

Meanwhile, the rest of us sit in judgment while trying to figure out if we won or lost the office Super Bowl pool.

Does any of this make any sense?

Keenan watch

Word is lots of folks are waiting and watching for the next move by state Rep. John Keenan, whose fifth term expires this year.

If you recall, Keenan announced last March that he was weighing a number of options, including running for higher office or giving up politics and moving to the private sector.

There are rumored to be a number of potential candidates waiting in the wings, including at least one big name. A really, really big name.

Stay tuned.

Hard pill to swallow

Here’s another rumor for you.

You know the doctors’ group that filed plans to build a medical office building at the Flynntan site on Boston Street?

There is unconfirmed speculation — our favorite kind — that this is the same tenant a developer was hoping to land for the Gateway Center, the development at the corner of Boston and Bridge streets where the city plans to open its long-awaited senior/community center.

But the Gateway Center has dragged on for years, much of it during a difficult economy that was none of its doing. In the interim, the rumor goes, this doctors’ group found a new home.

If all of that is true — which would be a first for this column — it takes on added meaning when you remember that the City Council approved a $4.9 million bond order for this senior center project last March with the stipulation that construction must start by next month.

Tick, tick, tick.

Idol chatter

Great event next Thursday night.

If you’re a singer or a rapper between the ages of 12 and 20, head on down to Orange Leaf Frozen Yogurt, 76 Lafayette St., between 7 and 10 p.m.

That may sound like a crazy place for a talent contest, but the store has strong ties to the local music scene and has dubbed the event “Opportunity Orange.”

Among those involved is Aaron Katz of The Dejas, a popular local group.

Here’s the best part — one of the judges is Tana Miller, a local pastor and the mother of Angie Miller of “American Idol” fame.

This is the first round of a competition that promises prizes and free recording time.

Robbery — the sequel

Two weeks ago, a man walked into St. John the Baptist Ukrainian Catholic Church on Bridge Street and stole the purse — which contained credit cards and $5 — of Joy Morris, the pastor’s wife.

He asked her for money. Having only $5, she went upstairs to find her husband, the Rev. James Morris, who was coming down the stairs with $20 when the man and purse disappeared.

Since then, some nice things have happened.

Last week, the pastor got a letter with a donation of $75.

On a recent weekend, a woman from Danvers came to a Sunday service to give Mrs. Morris a new purse with a scarf inside (Morris was wearing a scarf in a photo that ran in this newspaper) and $5. Also in the purse was a plaque inscribed “Believe Always.”

Symbolic protest

The 400 environmental activists who marched through town Saturday protesting the proposed natural gas power plant were accompanied by Salem police, who made sure they steered clear of traffic and trouble.

Leading the parade of earnest folks dedicated to a world free of fossil fuels was a Salem police officer in a Chevy Tahoe.

A gas-guzzling SUV that gets about 15 miles to the gallon.

Praising Paul

Former Ward 6 Councilor Paul Prevey, who lost last fall’s election, may be gone, but he’s not forgotten.

The Mack Park Neighborhood Association will pay tribute to Prevey on Sunday, March 9, at 2 p.m. at the Moose lodge.

Bring your appetites.

Soul food

The Salem Jazz and Soul Festival is not only a great summer musical event, it’s a community benefactor that raises funds for music education.

The festival just got a big boost from the W. Bradford Ingalls Charitable Foundation, which awarded it a $10,000 grant, the largest in the festival’s history.

Part of the grant will be used to expand the MusicKidz program at Salem Public Library. The festival is also working with the Salem Y on an after-school program.

Tierney territory

Richard Tisei, the affable Wakefield Republican running for John Tierney’s seat in Congress, was in Salem last week. In fact, he even took time to have breakfast and a cup of coffee at Caffe Graziani on Washington Street.

Wonder if he knows Tierney owns the building where he was dining and undoubtedly plotting his coup d’etat.

Shamrock time

The Boys & Girls Club just announced its fifth annual Shamrock Sweepstakes.

This is a great fundraiser for the club. Tickets are $100, and the top prize is $10,000.

For tickets, call 978-744-0915 or go to

Future kids

Some kids from Collins Middle School won a top prize at the Future City Competition at Northeastern University.

The Salem CyberSpace/Collins team created a virtual city — which they called “Peace” — using SimCity software, and they built a model of the city using recycled materials.

The presenters were Ben Jerzylo, Max Daley and Emma Lipinski. The rest of the team — Felicia Doherty, Ryan O’Shea and Chris Barnes — had to answer judges’ questions for almost two hours. Julio Fernandez and Emmanuel Garcia helped out.

Tom Dalton can be reached at