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October 31, 2013

Heard around town: The British invasion of Peabody

PEABODY — They’re back. Kids from the George Peabody Trust in London are visiting the North Shore once again to explore the roots of the man who established housing for the working poor in London, housing that still exists today after more than 150 years.

Bill Power of the Historical Society is among those chaperoning the nine visitors, ages 13 to 16.

“We’re trying to hit some different spots this year,” he said, including libraries backed by the Peabody-born, 19th-century financier and philanthropist in Danvers, Georgetown and Newburyport.

“It’s been absolutely fabulous getting to visit all the places that have a legacy of George,” said Ebun Atinmo, whose Nigerian name does not preclude a very proper British accent. “It’s so clear that George is very big on giving people opportunity.”

Peabody was careful to differentiate help from handouts, insisting that his donations help people help themselves. Atinmo commented on seeing that same spirit alive in the attitudes of people in Peabody to this day.

“George’s legacy lives on,” she said.

As far as America goes, Atinmo, on her first visit, said, “It’s big. Everything is big, from the roads to the cars. Even the portion sizes when we go out to eat.”

No gas tax? Oh, wouldn’t it be loverly

State Sen. Joan Lovely (D-Salem) responded by letter to the City Council’s plea that the Legislature repeal the computer and gas tax, noting that she and her colleagues axed the computer tax on Sept. 26. Of course, you probably weren’t expecting to pay a great deal on the computer tax, but you might be impacted by the gas tax, which is geared to rise automatically with the rate of inflation.

“During the Senate’s consideration of this (computer tax) repeal,” Lovely wrote, “Sen. Bruce Tarr (R-Gloucester) offered an amendment to eliminate the indexing of the gas tax to inflation. I voted in favor of Senator Tarr’s amendment; however a majority of the Senate rejected it.”

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