, Salem, MA

August 29, 2013

Just in time for Yellow Jacket season

By Alan Burke
Staff writer

---- — PEABODY — The City Council gave its unanimous approval last Thursday to a proposal to turn some abandoned properties at 143 Lynnfield St. into an indoor sports facility. Once built, it’s earmarked for use by the Yellow Jackets, an organization of girl gymnasts already using a space in Middleton.

“It’s a good use for a dilapidated piece of property,” said council President Tom Gould after the vote. The proposal was delayed at first but saw clear sailing after winning approval from the Conservation Commission. Some neighbors raised concerns regarding the impact on water runoff, Gould added, but he expects there will be some oversight of the plan.

The abandoned buildings on the site had even attracted the concern of police Capt. Joseph Berardino, who noted that kids have used the site for rave parties and similar mischief. He was among those seeing positives in allowing a permit to upgrade the site.

The power of the press

The rush to place a medical marijuana dispensary in Peabody seemed to have cooled after the city’s unsuccessful effort to ban the facilities outright. (The attorney general ruled that effort out of order.) At least, people stopped asking the mayor if they could locate here — a prime location with so many highways intersecting.

But no sooner did The Salem News write a story on where everything stands, “A pot clinic near you?,” on Tuesday, then Mayor Ted Bettencourt’s phone rang. “I got a call from somebody wanting to come in and talk about it,” he says. “It was right after the article ran.”

The mayor is no fan of the concept, having sponsored the effort to block the shops.

God bless this honorable board

How is the Licensing Board like the highest court in the land? Chairman Minas Dakos moved quickly to enlighten new member Fred Murtagh, the retired city councilor, telling him that he didn’t need permission to get his two cents in. “The way we operate here is like the Supreme Court,” Dakos said. “You don’t have to go through the chair (to speak).”

He was quick to add that he doesn’t equate the board with the court — this despite the tough decisions that both sometimes have to make.

Move over Mike Napoli

Dakos noticed something different about Peabody lawyer Jack Keilty when he appeared at a recent meeting.

“I know you’re a Red Sox fan,” Dakos said. “They have beards. You’re growing a beard, too?”

“A moderate one,” said Keilty, who seemed less than committed to the project.

“Duck Dynasty,” nodded board member Nancy Delaney, citing a popular television program centering on a family of lushly bearded entrepreneurs.

Make a note of it

Music will be a topic for conversation — and listening — at the Peabody Institute Library’s “American Music” film and discussion series. The first of six events is slated for 6:30 p.m. on Sept. 18. Boston University professor John Wallace will lead the program, which revolves around the theme of blues and gospel music, two sounds with an outsized influence on American music, said librarian Kelley Rae Unger.

Documentary films by people like Martin Scorcese help make the point.

“The talk will be about the history surrounding the music,” said Unger.

Each week features a different sound. The library’s upcoming concert series will reflect some of the topics of “America’s Music.”

The Peabody library is one of only 81 across the country to win sponsorship for this program, which is financed by the American Library Association, Tribeca Film Institute, Society for American Music and the National Endowment for the Humanities. More information is at, or 978-531-0100, ext. 10.