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January 8, 2013

Peabody mayor highlights the positive

PEABODY — Mayor Ted Bettencourt marked his first full year in office with a State of the City address listing a host of accomplishments. Tops on his list were negotiations that put city workers on the more economical state GIC health plan and the renovation of Main Street.

A crowd, including many veterans, police and firefighters, interrupted Bettencourt’s remarks several times with loud applause.

“This year has been a whirlwind for me and my family,” he said, as wife Andrea and their three young daughters looked on. “I can often feel my head spinning at the end of each action-packed day.” He then went off his prepared remarks to smile and add, “Which is true.”

Citing a commitment he made as a candidate, the mayor pointed to ongoing efforts to boost business in the city. Toward that end, he has targeted Centennial Park by naming a group to deal with it. “Chief among their tasks in 2013 is to help reinvigorate Centennial Park and reintroduce it to a broad spectrum of the business community.”

He continued, “To further promote Peabody as a good place to do business, the City Council last month approved my request to hire a business liaison.” Whoever takes the post is expected to “act as a promoter/marketer and cheerleader for the city in trying to recruit new business.”

The applause began when the mayor, who is also chairman of the School Committee, said, “Tonight, I am pleased to report that a new Higgins Middle School has been approved for design by the Massachusetts School Building Authority.” Bettencourt has been a strong supporter of replacing the aging Higgins.

Applause grew when he said cheerfully, “As you may have heard — anybody who knows me is probably tired of hearing me talk about this — but Peabody was named among Money Magazine’s best places to live in 2012.” The city’s sense of community, he added, had a lot to do with that.

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