, Salem, MA

September 20, 2013

Heard Around Town: Salem school election full of surprises


---- — SALEM — And now for a word on the School Committee race.


The first “wow” is for the low turnout in Tuesday’s preliminary election, Isn’t there a crisis in the public schools? And isn’t this the strongest field of candidates in years?

Of the 25,915 folks who are registered to vote, only about 3,600 voted. The turnout was better this year in elections in East Timor and Togo.

The second “wow” is the results.

Brendan Walsh finished first in the school race — not counting “blanks,” which topped the field. Walsh’s win was kind of expected for a homeboy who has spent his life in the schools.

However, the big story was the strong showing by two newcomers, Patrick Schultz and Rachel Hunt, who came in second and third in the eight-candidate field. With two other incumbents still in the race, it could be a fight to the finish for those three open school board seats.

Police search

Salem police are still searching for suspects in the shooting early Saturday morning on Linden Street. While no one was injured in the incident, several shots were fired, one narrowly missing a woman nursing her infant daughter in a neighboring apartment.

They are looking for two males who were with Evans Timouche, the 25-year-old Dorchester resident arrested in the case. Timouche, needless to say, isn’t talking.

Although located near Salem State University, the apartment where the incident happened is not rented by college students, police said.

The gunfire certainly has the attention of the South Salem Neighborhood Association, which hasn’t forgotten the back-to-back shootings on Raymond Road. They plan to discuss this matter at their October meeting.

New faces

Two big announcements this week.

Kylie Sullivan is the new manager of Salem Main Streets. This is the job focused on downtown revitalization. The last manager, if you recall, helped get the sensational farmers market going.

Sullivan lives in Salem and worked for several years at the Massachusetts Cultural Council.

Over at City Hall, Mayor Kim Driscoll named Salem resident Isabel Vargas as the city’s first Latino affairs coordinator.

Vargas, a political science major at Salem State, will act as a liaison to Latino community groups and businesses and provide Spanish-language constituent support. She will work out of the mayor’s office and a satellite office in The Point.

Animal country

Animal Control Officer Don Famico reports that a fisher cat has been spotted around Lafayette and Canal streets.

The little brown mammals are in the weasel family, but they are not fuzzy little friends. They have been known to kill cats and little dogs.

“They’re in the city,” Famico said.

Famous stores

A story on the closing of Bernard’s Jewelers rattled off a list of famous stores once on Essex Street. Daniel Low, L.H. Rogers, Weber’s, etc.

A kind reader contacted us to say we left one out — Empire Clothing.

Speaking of Bernard’s, did you know that some well-known locals started out in the store’s stock room? The lineup includes Rollie Corneau, Al Viselli and Paul Madore.

Bakery buzz

Melita Fiore Patisserie opened last week.

Well, it kind of opened.

The much-anticipated Washington Street store was so inundated with pastry-crazed customers that it had more business than it could handle. The poor owner worked almost 20 hours one day just trying to keep up with demand.

The store took a temporary respite while it hired more staff. It plans to reopen any day now.

Why not?

This is by no means an endorsement, but is there any more interesting city councilor than Bill Legault?

The guy knows everybody in the city — especially the characters — and seems to be everywhere.

Recently, Legault turned up on a YouTube video promoting Aaron Katz of the local band The Dejas, who will attempt to break the world record for nonstop drumming. Who knew there was a world record?

The attempt takes place Saturday morning, Sept. 28, at Wynotts, the wand store on Essex Street. And, yes, Katz will be using wands rather than drumsticks.

And it’s all to benefit the Boys & Girls Club.

Oh yeah, the current record is 24 hours. Katz is hoping for 30. All of which raises the question, how does he go to the bathroom?

No bull

For all of you unwashed masses who insist the Peabody Essex Museum is not the museum it used to be and has lost its way on a silk road of Korean pottery and Chinese textiles, we come before you today with good news.

The bison is back.

The 5-foot-tall American bison, once a fixture at the museum, is being brought out of storage. The bison — or is it really a buffalo? — will be re-installed later this month in the museum’s new Art and Nature Center.

If the bison is here, can other treasures from the PEM’s dusty basement be far behind — like the single rosary bead with Dante’s “Inferno” carved inside?

Grand reopening

If you want to see what a new school looks like, head over to Saltonstall tomorrow morning at 10 a.m.

There will be tours of the school and ... brace yourself ... a surprise guest.

Death in June

We have no idea if this is accurate, but a website called “Vanyaland” reported that the Death in June concert scheduled for last night at Old Town Hall, but canceled by Gordon College, was going to be held at an undisclosed location.

Just thought you’d like to know.

Music man

A funeral is being held today for Bob Hayes, the 92-year-old Salem resident who worked so hard to keep those summer concerts going at Salem Willows. The bandstand was dedicated to him this summer.

Among many claims to fame, Hayes was a trombone player with the Navy band aboard the USS Essex. As the ship chugged toward Iwo Jima, Hayes chatted with a photographer who was aboard the ship and liked to hang out with the band.

The photographer was Joe Rosenthal, who took the immortal photo of the flag raising on Mt. Suribachi.

Tom Dalton can be reached at