, Salem, MA

March 14, 2013

Heard Around Town: Ready, aim, sign

By Alan Burke
Staff writer

---- — PEABODY — School board member Jarrod Hochman thought it best not to stick to his guns after colleagues crafted a letter to Congressman John Tierney urging passage of legislation to restrict gun ownership.

The letter calls for a ban on the sale or possession of military-style assault weapons and possession of high-capacity magazines, while also requiring every gun buyer to pass a criminal background check.

Hochman initially opposed the gesture, “because of my lack of faith in anything going on in Congress and my lack of faith in Washington, D.C., in general,” he said.

Acknowledging the urge to act after horrors like the Sandy Hook shooting of elementary schoolchildren, he said he believes such problems can best be addressed closer to home, on Beacon Hill and in Peabody.

Nonetheless, Hochman added his name to the letter out of a conviction that the committee should speak with one voice on such an issue.

“We should act in a unified manner,” he said.

Read on

It won’t solve all the financial problems, but local kids managed to raise more than $400 last month simply by reading at the Peabody Institute Library. An event organized like a walkathon, the Read-a-Thon on Feb. 21 had as many as 25 teens reading aloud from books and electronic readers, doing mostly young adult fiction.

And who says kids don’t like to read?

“They were very enthused,” said Alysa Hayden, one of the Friends of the Peabody Library. “The kids were all smiles.”

The event lasted six hours, and the money came from sponsors who pledged varying amounts depending upon how much reading was done by individual readers. It goes to the library.

In other library news ...

“Teens ponder

for haiku contest

The Salem News awaits”

It’s the Peabody Institute Library’s first haiku contest, says teen librarian Melissa Robinson. Those ages 11 to 18 are invited to submit their efforts to say something beautiful or profound in three short phrases.

“Haikus are kind of open-ended and very simple,” Robinson observes. Some youngsters find the format less intimidating than more complex forms. Even so, that type of poem has attracted as many as 150 entries in the past, and she expects this will draw plenty of interest, as well.

Musical chairs

Business consultant Scott Frasca is likely rooting for Dave Gravel to be the next state representative. Frasca wants to take over Gravel’s spot on the City Council — or at least the seat of another at-large city councilor. He’s taken out the necessary papers to do it. And he’s not the only one. Also filing to join the hunt is a familiar figure, former state Rep. Tom Walsh.

Their effort is more likely to be successful if incumbent Gravel has gone to Beacon Hill after April 2, leaving an empty seat. Peabody voters are notoriously reluctant to throw out incumbents. Other at-large councilors include Jim Liacos, Mike Garabedian, Anne Manning-Martin and Tom Gould.

Meanwhile, as Ward 5 Councilor Dave Gamache begins to fade slowly into the West — he plans to step down at the end of his term — two candidates are said to be circling the empty seat. Taking out papers were Bob Croce and Joel Saflaw.

Getting off the bus

Looking for economies, School Committee member Brandi Carpenter noted with surprise that a unique communication system keeps the various Peabody public schools in touch with one another. She cited interoffice memos passed from one building to another and told her colleagues, “I have seen a bus delivering that.”

A voice from the back of the room called, “It’s a small bus.”

Even so, Carpenter asked, “Is there another way?”

Corned humor, no beefs

Peabody will hold its first St. Patrick’s Day roast on Saturday at City Hall’s Wiggin Auditorium from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. Tickets are $30, available at City Hall, and proceeds will benefit Haven From Hunger.