, Salem, MA

August 31, 2012

Heard Around Town: Look, up in the sky, it's leaping Lederhaus


---- — SALEM — There is only one Juli Lederhaus.

And then there are the rest of us, poor slobs making our way in a gray world.

The general manager of the Hawthorne Hotel is a redheaded, human dynamo who has been president of the Salem Chamber of Commerce, Salem Rotary and a gazillion other groups.

She is not only tireless, but fearless.

She has gone parasailing in Mexico and zip-lining — traveling by a cable attached to a high wire — in Hawaii.

And she’s no kid. Think Eisenhower Administration.

Well, last weekend, against the pleadings of her hotel staff not to go, she jumped from an airplane 12,000 feet off the ground and tandem sky-dived back to earth. If you don’t believe us, go to YouTube and click on “Lederhaus Leaps.”

Here’s what she had to say about the paralyzing, nerve-wracking moments leading up to the jump: “I was actually never so calm as I was on that plane ride and jump.”

The only terror, she said, came later in the day.

When she got home, she climbed a 6-foot stepladder lugging an electric hedge trimmer. “I only cut the power cord once,” she said.

School uniforms

After polling parents and holding meetings, the public schools decided not to go with school uniforms this year.

The issue is still being mulled by some schools, but most concluded they need to focus on academic issues right now, rather than shirts and skirts.

Flood meeting

About 40 residents on Forrester and Emerton streets met at St. Nicholas Church on Monday night to discuss their ongoing flood problems.

When heavy rains fall at high tide, those streets are inundated with water that rises to 2 and 3 feet, or even higher.

One after one, residents rattled off the numbers of washers, dryers, furnaces, hot-water heaters and even cars they have lost in the floods. Like most of the city and region, the neighborhood suffered badly last October, but it also was hit with back-to-back drenchings this summer.

To make matters worse, the summer floods came after two recent city projects to improve conditions.

Neighbors have written Mayor

Kim Driscoll

demanding a solution.

Restaurant closed

A lot of locals were dismayed to see the sign on Green Land Cafe announcing its closing.

Open only two years, the Washington Street restaurant appeared to be one of the most popular in the city.

According to the sign on the door, the spot next to City Hall is being taken over by Serenitee Restaurant Group, which owns a number of restaurants in the area, including Latitude 43 in Gloucester. The sign said it plans to open “Opus” in Salem in November.

A sign from a Green Land owner said only: “It was time to move on.”

Name game

Not that this would ever happen, but let’s hope the Salem school superintendent never has any run-ins with the Hamilton police chief.

It would be one confusing court case: Stephen Russell v. Russell Stevens.

Stephen Russell is in his second year as head of the Salem schools. Russell Stevens was reappointed this week as police chief in Hamilton.

They both face daunting tasks: One is trying to turn around a police department reeling from an EMT scandal; the other is trying to turn around a school system reeling from low MCAS scores.

Good Samaritan

If you live in Salem, you have many reasons to count your blessings.

For starters, you don’t live in Marblehead. That’s a joke, so no letters, please.

Another is free admission to the Peabody Essex Museum, which really is a great museum despite the cheap shots you may occasionally see in this space.

But another big reason, which often goes under the radar, is the unbelievable generosity of the Norman H. Read Trust, which, for the fourth year in a row, is underwriting free admission for all Salem residents to the Museum of Science in Boston for the month of September.

There are even a couple of train trips — free train trips — on consecutive Saturdays, Sept. 15 and 22, with museum staff riding along.

If you have kids and don’t take advantage of this, you really ought to turn in your official parent ID card.

Super garden

This city is known for its great gardens.

But one of the best is relatively unknown: the organic vegetable and butterfly garden behind Nathaniel Bowditch School.

In addition to a large variety of plants and a beautiful habitat for birds and butterflies, it boasts a spiral gravel path, a bench and tree, a paved patio, raised garden beds, and an automated irrigation system.

What’s more, it’s a classroom and outdoor science lab for Bowditch students.

Lucie Evans, who works at the school, started the garden 10 years ago, volunteering her own time to create this special place. Teacher Kristen Medler

helped secure a grant three years ago that gave the garden a real boost.

The real credit, of course, goes to the kids, who have made the garden their own, while learning a lot of math, science, engineering and horticulture.

Now that the grant is gone, the school is hoping a few green-thumbed benefactors will step forward.

St. Joseph

If you have driven past St. Joseph Church recently, you are probably wondering about the scaffolding that surrounds the large crucifix on the front of the church.

Well, the crucifix will be coming down soon, prior to the church demolition.

What will happen to it?

We asked the Archdiocese of Boston.

“Sometime in September, the crucifix will be carefully removed and moved to a Catholic retreat center in western Massachusetts,” a spokesman wrote in an email. “This is keeping with our priority to ensure that sacred items from closed churches be put to use by other Catholic entities when a need arises.”

Tom Dalton can be reached at