, Salem, MA

May 22, 2013

Heard Around Town: Beverly fifth-grader’s song hits the right note


---- — BEVERLY — Angie Miller isn’t the only Beverly girl who can write a hit song.

Folks at the Harborlight-Stoneridge Montessori School are still talking about the recent performance of fifth-grader Juliette Chait at the school’s “musical mornings” series, which is held in the main foyer during drop-off time at the start of school.

Chait sang four songs while accompanying herself on drums, including her own song, “The Brave.”

Her mother, Tracy Chait, said Juliette wrote the song the night of the Boston Marathon bombings, when she was having trouble sleeping. Juliette was worried about her uncle, a Cambridge policeman who was involved in pursuing the suspects. The song recognizes the sacrifices and bravery of first-responders.

School officials report that Juliette’s performance “packed the house and filled the hallways with an audience that offered hearty applause.”

Lights out

How many city workers does it take to change a light bulb?

No, it’s not a bad joke. It was a question asked by city councilors this week when the topic of the city’s recent purchase of 3,800 street lights from National Grid came up.

The council approved a $200,000 budget transfer to pay for the lights, a move that Mayor Bill Scanlon has said will save the city in the long run when you consider it was paying National Grid $360,000 a year to lease them.

Now that Beverly owns the lights, it also must replace them when they go out. City Electrician Bill Ambrefe is doing much of that work, but Finance Director John Dunn told councilors the Department of Public Services has other electricians on staff who can help out.

The city’s website ( has a link where you can report a street light that needs repairs.

Empty feeling

It’s bad enough that the former McKay School has sat empty for years. It doesn’t help that the city has to pay $25,000 in liability insurance for the building.

City councilors this week approved a budget transfer to pay that expense, but not without lamenting the situation.

“It’s just a shame that the building is sitting there vacant,” Councilor Don Martin said.

The city has put out two requests for proposals for the building over the years but hasn’t received a good offer, Dunn told councilors. He said the city will try again in the next three or four months.

Hoofing it

Who says kids don’t walk to school anymore?

More than 150 students from Centerville School did just that recently as part of National Walk to School Day.

School nurse Joyce Prior and a committee of parent volunteers developed the event through a partnership with the Massachusetts Safe Routes to School Program.

The program encourages walking by providing safe “walking school bus” routes where students can meet and walk in a group with parent volunteers.

“It’s a fun and social way to encourage more families to walk to school,” Centerville Principal Karla Pressman said.

Pressman said the school hopes to have more walk-to-school days, not just once a year.

Forever young

Age is relative. That’s one takeaway from Monday’s City Council meeting.

First there was Scott Dullea, who at 33 is the youngest councilor, saying he felt old next to Jon Powers, the teen director for the Greater Beverly YMCA, during a recent event at the McPherson Youth Center.

“They look at me and I’m like the old one, but you’re still cool,” Dullea told Powers.

“I think you’re still cool,” Powers responded.

A couple of hours later Dullea was announcing he won’t run for re-election and saying he hopes a young person gets in the race.

To which veteran councilor Maureen Troubetaris replied, “Does this mean I can’t run for the seat?”

Staff writer Paul Leighton can be reached at 978-338-2675 or