SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

December 20, 2013

Our view: Cheers, no jeers, for local newsmakers


The Salem News

---- — In the spirit of the holidays, here’s an all “cheers” version of our traditional cheers and jeers editorial on recent newsmakers:

CHEERS to Eagle Scout Tim Jordan of Troop 16 in Danvers, who came up with the idea of using old train wheels and axles to help make benches on the Danvers Rail Trail.

The 18-year-old Danvers High School senior procured the old train parts from Conway Scenic Railroad in North Conway, N.H., earlier this year.

“These wheels came right off of one of those old trains,” Jordan told reporter Ethan Forman. Now, thanks to Jordan and a number of other volunteers, they form the backbone of three 2,500-pound benches along the 4.3-mile trail.

All the work was done at no cost to the town as part of Jordan’s Eagle Scout project.

“To say that we were astonished by the results was an understatement,” said Danvers Senior Planner Kate Day.

CHEERS to the kind souls who donate $35,000 to help the family of Dominick Pacheco buy a van his parents hope will soon accommodate his wheelchair.

Dominick suffered a brain injury at birth that left him unable to speak, stand or sit on his own. His family has been trying for years to obtain a wheelchair-accessible van to help him get around. Dominick, 15, goes to school at Northshore Education Consortium in Beverly.

Many local individuals and groups stepped up to help, among them: former state Sen. Fred Berry and his wife, Gayle; Footprint Power; Salem Children’s Charity; the PTO and teachers at the Witchcraft Heights School; a group associated with the Essex County District Attorney’s Office; and Hutchinson Medical.

Melanie McKinnon, founder of the local nonprofit It Starts With Me, helped raise $3,000 by organizing a pub crawl, and Beth O’Grady from the Stephen O’Grady Foundation helped with organizing and advertising. The Stephen R. Baum Foundation recently pledged $4,000 toward the van’s wheelchair modification.

“I never expected this to happen,” said Laura Pacheco, Dominick’s mother. “I can’t thank them enough for what they’ve given us ... for Dom to have his freedom.”

Fundraising efforts will continue until enough money is raised to modify the van for Dominick’s wheelchair. Given the way the community has come forward, it shouldn’t take long.

CHEERS to our friend and colleague Morley Piper of Essex, the longtime newspaper association executive who spoke at the launch for our “Salute to Veterans” book last Thursday at our office in Beverly.

Piper, who wrote a chapter for the book, spoke about his experience landing on Omaha Beach on D-Day, June 6, 1944, as a 19-year-old Army second lieutenant. It was an understated but unflinching account of the horrors of that day and of war in general and a tribute to the incredible bravery and sense of duty of the men who turned the tide against Nazi Germany.

Piper said that for years he and other combat veterans of World War II would not talk of what they saw, did and felt because they did not want to revive those memories. He believes the survivors now have an obligation to tell their stories because they are a part of our history. Piper said he can now admit without shame that he trembled and shook and, yes, wept as a young man fighting for his life, as well as his country, during the days after landing in France.

May Piper’s example and “Salute to Veterans” encourage others to speak — and the rest of us to honor them for their service.