, Salem, MA

January 31, 2014

Big school forum planned for next week


---- — SALEM — The public schools move back into the spotlight Tuesday night when Superintendent Stephen Russell and Mayor Kim Driscoll provide an update on the school turnaround.

The community meeting is from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. at Nathaniel Bowditch School.

There will be a discussion with two Salem teachers, Marta Garcia of the Bentley School and Erin Heenan of Witchcraft Heights School, both of whom have children in the school system. There also will be information on upcoming kindergarten registration.

As you may recall, this is a big year for Salem schools — Year 2 of the turnaround effort — following the city’s designation as a Level 4, under-performing district. The state has given Salem three years to show real progress at Bentley Elementary School and other schools.

Mary, Mary...

It’s official.

Collins Middle School Principal Mary Manning submitted her retirement letter this week to Superintendent Russell.

Her departure in June will mark the end of an era. Mary has been part of the Salem schools since desks had inkwells.

Transgender award

The Tiffany Club of New England, a social and support organization for the transgender community, handed out its first community leadership awards last week.

Know who got them?

Salem Mayor Kim Driscoll was presented with the political award, and Eastern Bank CEO Richard Holbrook was given the community organization award in a ceremony at Peabody Essex Museum.

Driscoll was praised for filing an ordinance request with the City Council last week that would prohibit discrimination at public accommodations, which includes stores and businesses, on the basis of gender identity.

During Driscoll’s term in office, Salem has hosted the North Shore Pride Parade. She also designated an LGBT liaison on her staff and in the police department.

“As far as the city of Salem is concerned, transgender rights are human rights, and human rights are transgender rights,” Driscoll said at the PEM ceremony. “Denying equal treatment to anyone because of who they are or who they are perceived to be is fundamentally wrong. Now is the time for Salem to formally establish those values in our city’s laws so that they may remain as a clear guidepost for future administrations, city councilors and Salem generations to come.”

Long time passing...

Leave it to The Greenhouse School to pay tribute to legendary folk singer Pete Seeger, who died Monday.

On Tuesday, the tiny school with a progressive heritage held an impromptu tribute to Seeger, with co-director Dan Welch leading the kids in a few songs. They even declared it Peter Seeger Day.

“He was one of our school heroes,” Welch wrote in an email.

Gas news

Lots of loyal customers were happy to see the Hess station on Lafayette Street open up after a major reconstruction.

The station is reputed to have among the lowest gas prices in the area — and often lines of cars out front.

Lobster Shanty II?

It’s hush-hush at this point and still a work in progress, but the owners of everybody’s favorite restaurant, The Lobster Shanty, are eyeing a second location in the downtown.

It wouldn’t be another Shanty, but a new place and concept called The Ugly Mug Diner. Considering the number of ugly mugs in the downtown, it could be a big hit.

They’re looking at the spot on Washington Street where super-cook Ken Rothwell opened A Taste of Thyme a few years ago.

A liquor license transfer for the prospective restaurant is on the agenda of the Feb. 10 meeting of the Licensing Board.

Dog Day Morning

Students from Phoenix School had to get to the Northeast Animal Shelter this week for a big project they’re doing for the Salem Film Festival. The Salem Trolley came to the rescue and gave them a lift.

The kids brought along camera equipment because they’re making a 90-minute video about helping animals.

Plant protest

The power plant protesters put out a press release this week. Who knew protesters put out press releases?

They will gather at Salem Common at 2 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 8, march past the coal plant and over to Derby Wharf for a “street theater action.” They plan to march with banners, signs and “large wind turbine props.”

Just the thought of it makes one’s head spin.

They are fighting the proposed natural gas power plant at Salem Harbor Station.

The day of protest will end with a reception from 3 to 4 p.m. at Hawthorne Hotel.

No football zone

Speaking of the Hawthorne, they are eschewing — whatever that means — a Super Bowl party Sunday in Tavern on the Green and instead holding a dignified “Sunday supper.”

Instead of kielbasa and nachos, they will serve potato leek soup and goat cheese.

It’s a “place for people to escape the Super Bowl,” according to GM Juli Lederhaus.

No word yet on whether the House Un-American Activities Committee is investigating.

Tom Dalton can be reached at