, Salem, MA

April 19, 2013

Heard Around Town: Boston Marathon tragedy extends to Salem


---- — SALEM — The effects of the two bomb blasts at the Boston Marathon were felt everywhere.

Even here.

Bill Richard of Dorchester, whose 8-year-old son, Martin, was killed by one of the explosions, and whose wife and daughter were seriously injured, has a lot of local ties.

He grew up on Greenway Road, which is off Highland Avenue near the North Shore Medical Center. He was part of a big family — five kids — who lived on the street for many years.

Bill went to Middle School West (now Collins Middle School) and graduated from Salem High in 1988, where he played on the soccer team. His mother, Anne, was an aide at Salem High.

Salem Five started a fund for the Richard family because of the strong Salem connection, which was felt personally by two of its employees. One went to high school with Richard; the other was a college buddy at Bridgewater State.

The bank also opened a fund for the Woolfenden family, who live near Mack Park. While Amber Woolfenden was still on the course running Monday’s Boston Marathon, her husband, Stephen, and their young son, Leo, were injured in the blast.

Like every family and person affected by this tragedy, this has been a nightmare for them. Amber’s teammates on the Wicked Running Club have rallied around the family ever since, offering words of hope and encouragement and trying to shield them from the media spotlight. That became difficult yesterday when Time magazine came out with a tablet edition with little Leo on the cover in the arms of a police officer.

Last night, the city held a vigil in support of all the people affected by this tragedy.

On Sunday, on a smaller scale, E.W. Hobbs in Salem Willows is doing its part, donating the proceeds from popcorn batch sales (the big bags) to the Richard Family Fund at Salem Five.

Charlie Hobbs posted a message on their Facebook page:

“I and several of my friends knew Billy Richard growing up in Salem and from many happy escapades in our youth. Even though I haven’t seen Bill in years, my heart goes out to him just the same as if I talked to him yesterday, and I know I can’t even comprehend or put into words his and his family’s loss, but I think we all have to try to go on and not let ... the despicable people who did this win.

“We all have to get through this the best way we know how: Be strong, and help any way we know how for our fellow man. For Boston, for Salem, for Bill and his family. From all your old friends back in the day, Billy, we are with you in spirit. God bless.”

Proud parents

About 20 parents graduated this month from Bentley Elementary School.

That may seem like an odd announcement, but the school is running citizenship classes and English as a Second Language classes for parents, many of whom are from the Dominican Republic.

It is all part of the school’s effort to boost involvement from parents and to improve connections with school families.

This is only the most recent of several parent graduation classes.

Good going, Bentley.

Hail, Julie

The Eastern Bank Charitable Foundation gave out more than $1 million to a number of nonprofit organizations, including $10,000 each to The House of the Seven Gables Settlement Association, Salem CyberSpace, and the Salem Award for Human Rights and Social Justice Foundation.

Each recipient also got a football autographed by bank spokesman Doug Flutie, the former Boston College quarterback who threw the famous Hail Mary pass against the University of Miami almost 30 years ago.

At the presentation, Flutie tossed a football to Julie Rose of the Salem Award Foundation. She even caught it.

Wonder if her husband, Jim, could do as well.

Hammer time

City Council President Jerry Ryan became a little discombobulated last week.

At a busy meeting, with more than 60 committee appointments and reappointments to make, he pounded the president’s gavel so many times the head flew off.

Ryan hastily jammed the gavel head back on and resumed the meeting — once the laughter died down.

What was it that Rudyard Kipling said, “If you can keep your head when all about you are losing theirs ...”?

Power meeting

National Grid got a big crowd last week at the Hawthorne Hotel for its open house on the huge transmission project it plans to start next spring.

The utility, trying to be a good neighbor, handed out little gift bags to the 100 or so people who came. You know what was in the bags? A recyclable bag, a night light and a flashlight.

Does National Grid want to be handing out flashlights? Somehow, that does not instill confidence coming from the company that supplies our electrical power.

Student count

Several neighbors who attended Salem State’s meeting Wednesday night on its campus master plan took issue with the dorm-building plans.

Actually, they took issue with the enrollment figures Salem State used.

Salem State says its goal is to house 50 percent of its students in dorms. It now has 1,995 students living in residence halls and said it plans to increase that to a little over 3,500.

A bunch of residents said the college has always told them it has 5,000 undergraduates, which would mean it needs only 2,500 beds — not 3,500.

Salem State officials said they have 7,000 undergraduates (10,000 students overall). They insisted those have been the numbers all along.

From the looks on neighbors’ faces, they were a bit skeptical.

Dog news

The annual rabies clinic is Wednesday, May 1, from 4 to 6 p.m. at the rear of the police station. Shots are $10 for dogs or cats.

If your pet had a shot last year, bring along the paperwork, and little Muffy or Fluffy may qualify for a three-year shot. That may not be a big deal to you, but you’re not the one getting the shot.

Tom Dalton can be reached at

Staff writer Bethany Bray contributed to this report.