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March 27, 2014

Once a politician, always a politician

PEABODY — Mayor Ted Bettencourt faced a good-natured rebuke Tuesday night after he introduced political mentor and friend Fred Berry to the School Committee, saying that despite retirement, the former Peabody senator was a great help in pulling together resources for a new student health center at the high school.

“I’m still a politician!” Berry quipped in reply, drawing laughter. He took a few moments to tell a story about how friends wanted to honor his legacy by naming a new school cafeteria after him. Berry said he regaled them with the ways he’s served constituents and his district for the past 30 years “and you want to remember me with a cafeteria?”

On a more sober note, he talked with Bettencourt about the needs at the high school and reflected Tuesday that the need for greater health services is “obvious.” “This is a valuable lesson to learn: There are many things you put together in your life that make the world a little better.”

As he was leaving, Berry warned: “I’m taking the names of every member who doesn’t vote for this.”

Longtime board member Dave McGeney said it was the first time he recalled Berry coming before the board on an issue and asked to send Berry a letter of thanks. “He’s a true hero in the city.”

It’s all Greek to me

Peabody’s Greeks celebrated 193 years of freedom from Turkish rule on Monday. That first came in 1821 after 400 years of oppression under the Ottoman Empire, to be precise.

The first Greeks arrived in Peabody after the turn of the century — many to work in the city’s leather industry. They founded St. Vasilios Greek Orthodox Church in 1906 and then a Greek school in 1912. Each year, the city’s Greek community gathers at City Hall to raise their country’s flag, remember their history and celebrate the survival of their culture.

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