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News

Peabody celebrates its fallen soldiers in poignant Memorial Day ceremony

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It was an overcast day, but that didn’t stop Peabody from honoring its fallen service members in its annual Memorial Day parade and ceremony. Scores of veterans, their families and citizens turned out for the events, which carried marchers and floats down Main Street all the way to City Hall. Girl Scouts, Brownies, Boy Scouts, Cub Scouts, the Peabody Police, numerous veterans’ organizations – such as the Polish Legion and Disabled American Veterans – the Elks Lodge, the North Shore Pipe Band, and many more populated the procession. Also very special, the Veterans Services Department assembled its first ever “Gold Star” float for families of fallen service members.

After the parade, veterans and Gold Star families huddled on the front lawn of City Hall by the memorial monuments to pay respects. The Marine Corps League performed the 21 Gun Salute, and Peabody native Dana Sheridan performed the National Anthem.

New this year, Peabody’s Gold Star Families received their first-ever Massachusetts Medal of Liberty, which is specifically for the families of those fallen. Only a few other Massachusetts communities share the distinction. Signed into Massachusetts General Laws in 2009, a statute decrees that any family of any service member who has fought and died in any war since 1776 is eligible to receive the award. Some family members who received the award are elderly, while others are much younger.

Any family member of a fallen solider is eligible to receive the medal, but first they must apply through the state. The Peabody Veterans Services Department did a lot of the work tracking down the families of the soldiers to inform them of their eligibility, according to Veterans Services Director Steve Patten.

On behalf of the Governor of Massachusetts, Mayor Ted Bettencourt presented the medal to the families of Richard Bois, Nicholas Conaxis, Steven Donaldson, Louis Girolimon, Leo Levesque, Bruce Marron, John McCarthy, John Quinn, Robert Ross, John H. Savageau, Ralph Maney, Richard Cotter and Bruce Dick. Martha Barrett, Stacia Xerras, Catherine White, Louis Girolimon, Mary Draheim, Russell Marron, Peter McCarthy, Judith McNiff, Shirley Howard, John L. Savageau, Carol Maney, Helen Collins and Dick Cullinan accepted the medals on behalf of their respective family members and friends.

In a phone call describing the event, Patten called the display “heartwarming.” “I thought it was so special in that it showed a glimpse into the lives of the fallen heroes and the impact on the families they left behind,” Patten said. “I was amazed at how the families have never forgotten their loved ones. They appreciated what the city did for them, but it’s us who should be thanking them.”

There were many poignant moments from the event. Louis Girolimon, the 92-year-old father of USMC Lance Corporal Louis Girolimon, climbed up on the Gold Star Float to honor his son despite his frailty and age. “We helped him up there,” Patten said.

Martha Barrett, a schoolteacher in Florida, flew all the way up to Peabody to receive the medal on her brother, warrant officer in the U.S. Army Richard Bois’s behalf. “She wasn’t sure it was for real,” Patten said. “When she realized it, she immediately brought a plane ticket to come up.”

“There’s not a day that goes by that she doesn’t think about her brother,” he added. Patten went on to describe Barrett’s ordeal, common among military families, which is that “the pain has resonated and still resonates after all these years – that’s why she was hesitant.”

Dick Cullinan, whose best friend, Army 1st Lt. Bruce Dick passed away, broke down at the memorial monument to his friend, promptly did an about face, and saluted the monument.

“My brother died the way he wanted to, which was saving other people’s lives,” said Peter McCarthy, brother of Army Staff Sgt. John McCarthy.

By Melanie Higgins


 

City Council votes to relocate proposed medical marijuana zone

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Move earns praise of Lynnfield residents

By Melanie Higgins

Peabody will be reorganizing how it plans to have medical marijuana facilities in its borders. At a meeting on May 25, the City Council decided to strike the plan to bring a medical marijuana zone to 100 Corporate Place off of Route 1. The city is in the process of approving the new location, which is located next door in the area of Brothers Kouzina, 7-Eleven, and Bertucci’s and contains four parcels.

Complaints from residents at Green Street in Lynnfield halted the move. The only way to access the site is to drive through Green Street. Residents are concerned that people might be getting “high” on-site and driving back through their neighborhoods, which contain children.

“The original proposed zone would have dramatically and adversely affected the lives and homes of many decent people. Living with the uncertainty of people potentially getting high and driving down our streets impaired, while our children play, would have been agonizing for the residents of this area,” said Danielle Berdahn, a resident of Green Street in Lynnfield.

She added, “I can’t be more appreciative that they took into consideration our neighborhood. I know we’re not part of Peabody, but we are neighbors, and it was very neighborly to think about us.”

“My intention was to create a zone that limited the places where it could go in our city. I did not want it near neighborhoods, I did not want it near schools or parks,” Mayor Ted Bettencourt said. “The last think I wanted to do was create something that affected our neighbors, the Town of Lynnfield.”

“We consider Peabody a good friend to us, and I want to thank the mayor especially for being very proactive to the needs of the residents,” said Christopher Barrett, chairman of the Board of Selectmen in Lynnfield, also thanking Bettencourt and the city of Peabody. Barrett had sent a memo earlier in the week to Peabody asking that the city respectfully relocate the proposed site. “The fact that you guys paused, took a moment to consider the needs of Lynnfield, it’s something that we won’t forget.”

The Planning Board will meet and subsequently make a recommendation on or after June 1, after which the council will take a vote to approve the new zone.

The new site is not without its concerns. One man, Russell Donovan of 12 Quail Rd., is concerned about the zone. He said he believes it would kill surrounding businesses. “The Bertucci’s will move, the gas station will close, the restaurant will probably sell brownies, I guess, and Don’s will have to find somewhere else to go,” Donovan said.

Others were concerned that the sectioning off of such a small area for medical marijuana essentially amounts to “spot zoning,” which is taking a parcel and making it specially used for a specific purpose. Bettencourt responded by noting that there would be four parcels in the zone, not just one, and it would not be “spot zoning.” “There is no property being singled out for special treatment,” he said.

Marijuana in Peabody

The actions come in light of advice from the Massachusetts Municipal Association (MMA) that towns and cities be “proactive” with how they handle marijuana and medical marijuana. Bettencourt said that he met with the MMA recently to discuss these issues and has set up a plan to address the drug, which was legalized for recreational purposes last November.

Peabody does not currently have a medical marijuana zone, nor did it want to up until this point. Back in November, Peabody voted against bringing recreational marijuana shops to the city, and the mayor denounced it. The drug was notably legalized for recreational use and sale by the state in the November election.

Bettencourt has advocated for medical marijuana in the past and currently. “Medical marijuana, to me, has helped a great number of people in the city – provided relief, provided treatment, and that’s something I’ve taken a completely different view of,” the mayor said.

Reportedly, medical marijuana often brings great benefits to those who suffer from debilitating diseases and ailments, such as aches and pains, PTSD, anxiety and more. On the other hand, the mayor said of recreational pot, “Recreational marijuana, to me, is a gateway drug, and is something I have grave concerns about moving forward.”

 

Collins enters Peabody City Council-at-Large contest

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Today, Stephen F. Collins III of 21 Coolidge Ave. officially declared his candidacy for Councillor-at-Large for the City of Peabody.

“As a lifelong resident of Peabody, I have been heavily involved in the city through community activities, school, sports, and work. Peabody has done a lot for me and I believe it is time I give back. As the eldest of six siblings I want to ensure that they have the same experiences and opportunities that I had. I will bring new ideas to the Council while maintaining the same values that this city prides itself upon. Going around the city the past few months talking and meeting with the voters and listening to their concerns while gathering signatures has been a great experience. I am looking forward to the months ahead,” said Collins.

Collins currently serves as a Claims Resolution Specialist at Liberty Mutual in Danvers. Stephen is a graduate with honors from Syracuse University.

The Collins Committee is scheduled to host the Campaign Kickoff for Stephen at 7 p.m. on June 9 at the Peabody A.O.H. Hall.

For more information please visit www.electstephencollins.com or call 978-798-5850.

   

Michaud gives away Keys to Success

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Peabody Girl Scouts start garden project at John E. McCarthy School

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