SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

January 17, 2014

Cheers, jeers for recent newsmakers


The Salem News

---- — CHEERS to Salem State University for reopening the venerable Salem Diner.

The blue-and-yellow 1941 Sterling diner on Loring Street is a city and regional institution. Those wondering about its old-school credentials in an era of soulless “reboots” should know it’s listed in the National Register of Historic Places and was a favorite haunt of the longtime heart and soul of the Boston Red Sox, Johnny Pesky.

The diner was the real deal then, and if Salem State has its way, it will be for years to come. The university bought the diner over the summer. It remained closed while the school looked for someone to run the operation. When that search came up short, Salem State decided to step up to the grill.

So far, students and city residents have packed the 47-seat restaurant for breakfast and lunch.

“The menu itself is almost 100 percent what we had in the past,” said John Hayes, resident district manager for Chartwells, the company that oversees the university’s dining halls. The prices also stayed the same.

So far, the only complaint has been a shortage of a diner food staple: french fries. As of this week’s opening, the new fryolator had yet to arrive.

JEERS to the thieves who continue to swipe copper from local properties, a trend that has picked up speed in recent weeks.

Last week, Marblehead police reported thefts from four homes in two days. In Swampscott, police said hundreds of dollars worth of copper downspouts were stolen from the town hall, and the Holy Name Church on Monument Avenue was hit twice. Downspouts were also taken from a home on Lafayette Street in Salem, and two elementary schools in Beverly were hit over the holiday break.

“We respond very quickly, and I think we have a pretty good handle on it,” Salem police Chief Paul Tucker told reporter Terri Ogan. “Unfortunately, though, it’s become an epidemic.”

The copper brings a good price at scrap yards, and local police say they’re working with those companies to catch the thieves.

“I remain concerned, but I think local law enforcement is getting a good handle on who is responsible,” Tucker said.

CHEERS to efforts to better market the local seafood industry. A bill filed by state Senate Minority leader Bruce Tarr, R-Gloucester, would create an entirely new function for the state’s Division of Marine Fisheries.

Expanding government’s hand into private industry services like marketing and other operations is a step that can send chills up the spines of business owners and consumers alike.

However, this is a measure that can provide credible and needed help to a fishing industry still caught in the grips of a federal regulatory stranglehold that has already spurred a recognized “economic disaster” and essentially collapsed the once-proud local fleet, whose fishermen and business owners are selling their boats in the face of bankruptcy and foreclosures.

The bill calls for the establishment of a Massachusetts Seafood Marketing Program within the state’s Division of Marine Fisheries. That program’s goals would include boosting awareness of seafood’s health benefits, creating name recognition and consumer demand for Massachusetts-caught seafood products, developing educational tools and strategies to bolster consumer confidence, and identifying funding sources to increase outreach promoting the industry.

For a prominent Bay State industry in crisis, those are worthwhile goals and deserving of full legislative support.