, Salem, MA

September 26, 2013

The vision thing

By Alan Burke
Staff writer

---- — At a recent council meeting, City Councilor Anne Manning-Martin expressed concerns about a “vision” for downtown Peabody.

“Do we want a packy (package store) on every corner?” she asked, as her colleagues considered granting a liquor license.

Councilor Barry Sinewitz, a downtown businessman, also expressed worries about vagrancy, homelessness and alcoholism. He added, “I see them behind my building shooting up.”

Manning-Martin has now taken her concerns to Mayor Ted Bettencourt, meeting with him yesterday.

“We had an exchange of ideas about the future of the downtown,” she said. “It was very productive.”

For his part, the mayor agreed that it was a good meeting, but he downplayed some of the more colorful concerns about the downtown.

“I’ve never seen anyone shooting up,” he said. Most of the problems revolve around a relative handful of homeless people, he added. “We’re a large city.”

Yet, dealing with such people requires tact, he said. “There’s a humanitarian aspect.” At the same time, police will crack down on open containers of alcohol. “That’s not something we’re going to put up with.”

Bettencourt added, “I feel we’ve made great strides.” As proof of progress, he noted, “Investors are putting millions into the downtown.”

School funding is in the bag

That’s what a trio of Peabody High School marketing students told the School Committee this week. They’re helping raise money by teaming with MYECO, a company that sells reusable supermarket bags, hoping to arrest the environmentally worrisome accumulation of plastic bags. So far, Shaw’s supermarket is on board with the funding effort, and others are expected to join.

“Based on the size of your purchase, a portion of the sale becomes our profit,” Shantel Silva told the committee,

MYECO founder Kristen Brown came to the students with the idea, added Chris Chiampa. “Our hope is by spreading the use of the bags, we can cut down on waste.”

“There’s a bag for everything,” noted Austin Solimine, as the trio displayed bags of all sizes, including a bag designed to keep your ice cream from melting.

The board voted to urge Brooksby Farm to join the MYECO program. Anyone interested in reusable bags should contact Peabody High School.

The last shall be first

At least, in the Bible. But in politics, it helps to be first if you want to be first. Which is why candidates attend a drawing to see who gets first place on the November ballot. Here is the result in the crowded race for at-large councilor with David C. Gravel taking the top spot, followed by Scott M. Frasca, Thomas P. Walsh, Margaret Ellen Tierney, Anne M. Manning-Martin, Michael V. Garabedian, Russell P. Donovan, Peter T. Bakula and Thomas L. Gould. With these nine vying to fill five seats, every little advantage helps.

Local officer recognized

The group Wives Behind the Badge has honored Peabody police Sgt. Eric Zawaki, presenting him with the State Community Hero Award for 2013. In making their choice, the group recalled the accident on Dec. 5, 2011, when Zawaki was working a paid detail on Route 1. Standing at the side of the road offering directions to a driver, the officer was struck by a 76-year-old from New Hampshire driving a truck. Zawaki was thrown over the hood of one vehicle and was subsequently taken to Massachusetts General Hospital for treatment of serious injuries. Speed and wet roads were given as the reasons for the accident.

The nomination praised Zawaki, who has been with the Peabody department for 15 years, as “a great person who deserves recognition.” Wives Behind the Badge is a national organization that includes a Massachusetts auxiliary. It is dedicated to providing support for police officers, their families and departments.

Zawaki has not yet returned to service. He is also known for his work with Argo, the late and beloved Peabody police dog.

Staff writer Alan Burke can be reached at 978-338-2524 or