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Local Girl Scouts open Little Free Library

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With money raised from cookie sales, the 17 girls of Girl Scout Troop 76125 were able to build a Little Free Library, which was recently installed at Emerson Park.

During the Sept. 29 dedication, Mayor Edward Bettencourt said he was thrilled to see the project come to fruition after the troop brought it to his attention back in May. “I’ve been looking forward to this day for a long time,” he said.

Bettencourt also said the new library will get plenty of use in Emerson Park. “This is the central park of the city,” he said, adding that a dog park, skating rink and splash pad are also planned for the park.

Troop leaders Sara Addesa and Betsy Nunes said the idea for a Little Free Library surfaced when the troop was studying the lifestyles and cultures of girls in other parts of the world.

Some of the books available in the library’s initial stock include “The Monogram Murders” by Sophie Hannah, “Perfect Piggies” by Sandra Boynton, “The Very Silly Shark” by Jack Tickle and “Mama’s Right Here” by Liza Baker. Addesa and Nunes said adult books will be available as well.

They also said that a second Little Free Library has been constructed and will be installed at a location to be determined in West Peabody.

According to LittleFreeLibrary.org, the nonprofit organization operates on the honor system in which residents can take a book and replace it with a book of their own that they would like to donate. The website also states that in 2012, Little Free Library was hailed as “a global sensation” by the Associated Press. In October 2015, the organization received the Library of Congress’s Literacy Award. During the past eight years, Little Free Libraries have popped up in every state and in 70 countries. Including the new location at Emerson Park, there are now 49 Little Free Libraries in Massachusetts. There are also 250 Facebook pages featuring Little Free Libraries, as well as 30,000 photos on Instagram, Flickr and Pinterest.

By Christopher Roberson


 

Peabody responds to hurricane-ravaged Puerto Rico

Along with other North Shore communities, Peabody has answered the desperate cry for help from a place 1,700 miles away: Puerto Rico.

On Sept. 20, the island was decimated by punishing winds of up to 155 miles per hour from Category 4 Hurricane Maria, according to the National Hurricane Center. Before Maria, Puerto Rico had caught a glancing blow from Hurricane Irma on Sept. 6, which at the time was an even stronger Category 5 monster. In addition to 34 deaths and the immense level of destruction, Maria knocked out power to all 3.4 million residents. The current outlook remains bleak, as electricity is not expected to be restored for the next six to 12 months.

“We have dribbles of communications telling us about the conditions … The island is unrecognizable; many people are going to spend the holidays homeless,” said Georgianna Melendez, a member of the new Facebook group North Shore Mass. for Puerto Rico, during a community meeting on Oct. 3. Melendez has a number of family members who live on the island.

Mayor Edward Bettencourt said he recently received an email from San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz asking for money. “The money request was to rebuild and restructure,” he said. “It’s painful to watch, it’s painful to see.” Therefore, Bettencourt said, the city will set up a PayPal donation link on its website.

Melendez said some of the items that will run out the quickest include toothpaste, shampoo, razors and condoms. “People still have sex even if they don’t have electricity,” she said.

Other items that can be donated include batteries, car inverter outlets, solar chargers for cellphones and flashlights. Melendez said clothing and bottled water are not being collected, as other communities have been sending those items. “It costs too much for us to ship; let someone else take care of that,” she said.

Melendez said the City of Lawrence has made tremendous progress in collecting donations. “They have a warehouse with pallets piled high,” she said.

Yet, Melendez said one of her greatest concerns is that the crisis in Puerto Rico could eventually be forgotten. “My fear with disaster relief is once it’s not in the news anymore, people forget about it,” she said.

Melendez said another challenge is transporting items from Peabody to Puerto Rico. “If someone has a private plane, please tell me,” she said. In response, one resident said she would speak with officials at Beverly Airport about the possibility of making such arrangements.

Residents also suggested sending letters to local businesses asking for donations and making robocalls. In addition, Scott Sternberg of Salem suggested sending aid to cities elsewhere on the island so as not to get it lost in the bottleneck at San Juan.

Melendez also urged residents to attend a relief drive, which will be held at Immaculate Conception Parish at 15 Hawthorne Blvd. in Salem from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Oct. 7.

By Christopher Roberson


 

Veteran educator running for School Committee

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Having been “tied in with education” for the past 56 years, one of the few things Laurence Aiello has not done is serve on the School Committee – now he is looking to change that. A first-time candidate for public office, Aiello spent 25 years as an elementary school principal in Salem, Manchester-By-The-Sea, Cambridge and Salem, N.H.

“It’s the place where kids need the most care,” he said of elementary school.

On the other end of the spectrum, Aiello was also an adjunct graduate professor at Fitchburg State College and has lectured about bullying and school needs. Currently a practicing attorney in Revere, Aiello said he is well versed with the laws governing education as well as the intricacies of constructing a budget.

He described his campaign as being “quite an adventure so far.” “Everybody I’ve met has been vitally interested in the community,” he said.

In addition, Aiello said it is often assumed that senior citizens are against the schools, particularly during budget season. “This is not the case, they’re not against education,” he said. “They just want to make sure that the money is being spent properly.”

Aiello also said that more work is needed in order to truly recognize the toil that teachers endure on a daily basis. “Not too many people know what teachers do,” he said, adding that that toil is not exclusive to elementary educators. “High school teachers do one hell of a job.”

A principal for more than two decades, Aiello said those employees are usually the first to be let go if budget cuts are needed. “Principals are the least protected people in a school system,” he said, adding that their contracts are renewed on a yearly basis. “They’re susceptible to a lot of anxiety and angst.”

Looking ahead, Aiello outlined what he considers to be the top three challenges facing Peabody’s schools. The first challenge is to hire a new superintendent of schools. To accomplish this, Aiello said the School Committee needs to find a candidate who is a proven educational leader rather than just another administrator. “An educational leader excites and ignites,” he said.

The second challenge is the budget. Aiello said that, if elected, he would want to know how every dollar is spent and what the ultimate benefit is for the students. “If I’m sitting there, I’m going to ask the hard questions,” he said. “I’m about making things better; you only accomplish things through cooperation.”

The third challenge is to have meaningful professional development sessions. Aiello said he would like to see those sessions facilitated by the district’s own employees rather than hiring an outside person. “Listening to their own people talk is a lot better than bringing someone in from Concord or Carlisle,” he said.

By Christopher Roberson


   

Pappas announces campaign for Library Trustee

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Dear Voter,

My name is Tom Pappas and I am a candidate for Library Trustee. I reside in Peabody with my wife Gail (Adamopoulos) Pappas and my son Yanni. For the past 6 years, I have been serving on the Peabody Cable Television Commission and I hold the position of Vice Chair.

Early in my career I worked 10 years at Hampshire College under the Harold F. Johnson Library Director. As a library trustee, I would help to ensure that the library serves the needs of the community and that it continues to be a valued resource with its many offerings. I have a Master of Science Degree in Electrical Engineering and I am currently employed as an engineer at Philips Healthcare in Andover, MA.

I respectfully ask for your vote in the November 7th election.

Thank you.

Tom Pappas

 

PACC begins third year of Young Entrepreneurs Academy on Oct. 25

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Students from Peabody, Lynnfield and other North Shore communities will once again have the opportunity to cash in on their dreams of having their own businesses with the return of the Young Entrepreneurs Academy (YEA!).

YEA! Program Manager Maria Terris, who is also the event coordinator for the Peabody Area Chamber of Commerce, said there are currently 12 students enrolled in this year’s class, four of whom are from Peabody and three from Lynnfield. Those students include Taylor Ross, an eighth grade student at Higgins Middle School, Alex Locke, a junior at Peabody Veterans Memorial High School, Dylan Blacker, a senior at Lynnfield High School, Gianfranco Sacco, a sophomore at Lynnfield High School, Jacob Bettencourt, a senior at Essex Technical High School, Adam Hoffman, a senior at Peabody Veterans Memorial High School and Christopher Areglado, a junior at Lynnfield High School. The other five students will be coming from Danvers and Westford.

“The students from Peabody and Lynnfield range in age from 13-18 and are all excited to be a part of this innovative program,” said Terris. “They know that it will be work above and beyond school and sports, but they are a committed, dedicated group who want to stand up and stand out.”

“Students are chosen based on a written application and interview,” said Terris. “We look for students who have the entrepreneurial spirit, the desire to create something whether it is a product, service or social movement.”

Starting on Oct. 25, YEA! will meet every Wednesday from 4-7 p.m. at North Shore Community College in Danvers.

Terris said YEA! teaches students how to brainstorm business ideas, write a business plan, participate in trade shows and register a business. “We walk them through every stage of starting a business … It is a huge confidence builder and a great addition to their college application,” she said, adding that YEA! culminates with students presenting their business before a panel with the goal of obtaining start-up funds.

Former YEA! students include Matthew Ciampa of Lynnfield, who at the age of 12 created Treasure Socks, a line of custom-made socks designed to carry medications. Ciampa was also selected to present his business idea to MassChallenge and is currently planning to launch his product in 2019.

“YEA! gave me the business knowledge and tools to turn my idea into a business,” he said. “As the YEA! program progressed, I was inspired to keep developing my business. YEA! was and is inspirational for kids like me.”

Michael Axiotakis of Lynnfield, a high school student at the time, emerged from YEA! with AxioCovers, a custom line of chrome book covers.

After high school, Ashley Hurton of Peabody went on to launch HappiWear, a line of exercise clothing, which she currently runs out of her dorm room at San Diego State University. Hurton was the winner of the East Coast Regional Competition in 2016 and presented HappiWear at the U.S. Small Business Summit in Washington, D.C.

By Christopher Roberson


   

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