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September 26, 2013

Board asks to name street after Liacos

PEABODY — Come January, City Councilor Jim Liacos will be retired and gone from public life. But if the Peabody School Committee gets its way, he won’t be forgotten.

Acting on a motion by member Dave McGeney, the board voted unanimously Tuesday to request that one of the streets slated to be constructed around the new Higgins Middle School be called Liacos Way. The motion proved popular enough that Mayor Ted Bettencourt insisted on adding his vote, and in a break with the usual procedure, every member was allowed to second the motion.

“He’s brutally honest and a man of his word, and he didn’t have an agenda,” the mayor said of Liacos in a later interview. “He’s been an adviser to me since I’ve been mayor. ... And he’s the last guy in the world who would ask for something like this.” But, Bettencourt added, it is appropriate to recognize his 34 years in public service and his contributions to the city’s schools.

The request now goes to City Council. The street, according to the mayor, is likely to be a bus or parent drop-off route. He acknowledged a small possibility that the street might not be constructed, as the entire Higgins project “is still being tweaked.”

“Having a street named after you is pretty cool,” said Liacos, who added that it came as a surprise. “I had no clue.”

On hearing of McGeney’s presentation, he added, “It was very humbling.”

He wondered just what the procedure would be if the proposal wins support in the council — will there be a ceremony? “This is a first for me,” he said.

Liacos, 61, served 20 years on the School Committee and 14 years on the City Council. As near as observers can make out, that makes him the longest-serving elected official in Peabody’s history. But it wasn’t longevity that McGeney sought to honor.

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