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January 7, 2014

Bettencourt cites accomplishments, goals

PEABODY — Mayor Ted Bettencourt gave a crowded Wiggin Auditorium an update on his ambitious agenda last night. It was all part of the ceremony that saw him sworn in for his second term. The City Council, School Committee, Library Trustees and the Municipal Light Plant also took their oaths.

“Peabody is on the rise,” the mayor told the gathering, which filled most of the floor and some of the balcony seats. Among those attending were U.S. Rep. John Tierney (D-Salem), District Attorney Jonathan Blodgett, state Sen. Joan Lovely (D-Salem) and state Rep. Ted Speliotis, the democrat who represents Danvers and parts of Peabody.

“Great progress has been made,” said Bettencourt, “but there is much more work to be done.”

He set two goals for the future, spurring economic development and “renewing pride in Peabody.”

Bettencourt, who had no opposition in getting re-elected last November, took the oath from Tierney. He cited a number of initiatives launched during his first two-year term, including the approval of the new $92 million Higgins Middle School, “A priority of mine since I first announced I would run for mayor.” Ground will soon be broken on the project, he said, and more than half of the cost will be paid by the state.

In addition, he pointed to the realignment of traffic in the downtown.

“The early reviews are in, and they are overwhelming positive,” he said, while conceding that traffic has slowed. “We will continue to make adjustments.”

Also, he cited efforts to attract a boutique hotel at 9 Main St. in Peabody Square and, at the same time, populate the now-vacant upper floors of the adjacent building.

“These two projects alone hold the promise of injecting millions of dollars into the heart of Peabody Square,” he said.

A change in zoning is geared to bringing new life to Centennial Park. Bettencourt noted that he attended a groundbreaking for a new building there and was given a ceremonial shovel. That led him to depart from his text and recall the dozens of gleaming stainless-steel shovels that former Mayor Peter Torigian once had decorating his office.

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