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    Monday, May 15, 2017 00:00
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    Monday, May 15, 2017 00:00

News

Lynnfield girls’ tennis team ends April perfect after four matches

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The Lynnfield High School girls’ tennis team ended the month of the April with a couple of more wins to remain undefeated in the Cape Ann League (CAL) at 4-0.

On April 24, the Pioneers edged North Reading, 3-2. Camie Foley (6-1, 6-2) and Katie Nevils (6-4, 6-1) won the first two singles matches, while Alexa Vittiglio (2-6, 3-6) lost a competitive battle in third singles. The first doubles team of Katie Nugent and Allison Carey won in straight sets (6-3, 6-2), but Rachel Strout and Laura Mucci dropped a 6-8 (8), 3-6 heartbreaker.

The Lynnfield girls had to play without the services of Sara Mezini, but Foley and Nevils, as well as the rest of their teammates, stepped up from their regular spots to meet the challenge. “Both Foley and Nevils exhibited an outstanding display of offense and defense to keep their opponents at bay,” said coach Craig Stone.

“Vittiglio, a sophomore, made her singles debut, and she extended many rallies, but was unable to defeat a more experienced opponent,” added Stone. “The first doubles team struggled in the first set, but seemed to gain command at 3-3, and never looked back. The second doubles tandem battled a lack of consistency, but also exhibited periods of top play that is promising for both players down the road.”

Stone then added that it’s always a great match with North Reading, and this one was no exception. He’s just pleased that they could come away with the win, considering they were shorthanded. But in the end, he was very excited about the team’s overall level of play.

Then, on April 26, Lynnfield had its match against Manchester Essex suspended because of darkness. The score was tied at two at the time of the suspension. They will finish things up on May 9.

Mezini (6-2, 2-6, 7-5) was back for this match and was able to win a competitive three-set encounter. Foley (7-6, 3-6, 2-6) was not so fortunate in second singles. Nevils (6-1, 6-4) won in straight sets in third singles. Katie Nugent and Allison Carey (4-6, 6-3, 2-6) lost in first doubles, while Laura Mucci and Alexa Vittiglio (6-4, 5-5) have to wait until next week to finish up in second doubles. Mezini and Foley both played over two hours to begin the marathon match.

For Mezini, it was a rematch of the 2016 North sectional final, and she was able to turn the tables and defeat Chanel Bullock this time around. Mezini was able to force play with her attacking style, while Bullock had to be on the defense, just to keep everything in play. It certainly made for a very interesting match to watch, according to Stone. “Mezini seemed to will her way to victory in the third set,” he said afterward.

Foley played a similar match against Chanel’s sister, Christina. There were lots of peaks and valleys for both players, with Foley being the aggressor while Bullock was just trying to extend points.

Nevils was in control the entire first set in third singles, but was down 4-1 in the second before winning the next five. She continues to improve in each match, much to the delight of her coach and teammates.

Nugent and Carey had trouble playing consistent tennis in first doubles and seemingly turned it around in the second set, only to lose the momentum in the third.

Mucci and Vittiglio played the Manchester Essex duo close during the first two sets, with neither team mounting much of a lead at any one time. They will resume the match at 6-4, 5-5 on May 9 with possibly the CAL title on the line.

“Just another typical Lynnfield-Manchester Essex match with every position evenly contested,” said Stone. “We need to play more matches like this one to improve as a team to ready ourselves for postseason play.”

On Friday, April 28, Lynnfield was able to blank Amesbury, 5-0. Mezini (6-2, 6-0), Foley (6-0, 6-1), Nevils (6-1, 6-1) and the doubles teams of Nugent and Carey (6-3, 6-3) and Strout and Makayla Maffeo – making her varsity debut – (3-6, 6-4, 6-3) completed the shutout.

There was no letdown after the Manchester Essex confrontation. The second doubles match was the only contested encounter. The Lynnfield tandem looked a little shaky in the first set, but then settled down to win the next two.

By Joe Mitchell


 

LHS students showcase talent at biannual “Open Studios”

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Lynnfield High School students have been getting crafty. In observance of the biannual “Open Studios” event, students showcased their best works of art at the high school on April 26. The show, which has been in existence for the past few years, is an opportunity to allow kids to take what they produce in class and show it off before an audience of their peers. At the April show, students from all grade levels with all artistic media had their works on display.

In the media room, students performed a variety of acts using an array of instruments. On the xylophone, John Simonetti, Jeff Floramo, Leo Quinn, Sean Robbins, Anthony Floramo and Teresa Thomas performed a rendition of the hit song “Shipping Up to Boston” by the local Celtic band Dropkick Murphys. On the piano, Jessica Chann, Ryan Miller, Danielle Colucci and Andrew Bunar paid musical tribute to “The Office,” a popular TV show with perhaps an equally popular theme song. And on a variety of instruments too numerous to list but that included at least one guitar and one banjo, Joe Pavao, Mike Federico, Nick Bisconti, Nick Zhang, Danielle Colucci and Anthony Adario played music by Beethoven, including “Für Elise” and “Ode to Joy.”

“It’s a good opportunity in a smaller setting to show off their individual talent,” said Tom Westmoreland, director of Instrumental Music at LHS and present at the studio sessions that night.

LHS students have a wide variety of musical options to choose from. Under Westmoreland’s direction, students can play in a Percussion Ensemble, Mariachi Band, String Ensemble, Jazz Band or Funk Band, to name a few. Westmoreland also heads the Tri-M Music Honor Society with co-director Doug Hodgkins, who directs the school musicals. A large number of students also participate in “Sweet Treble,” an afterschool group dedicated to a cappella singing.

In the adjacent room, photography students also had their time to shine. Given direction by art teachers Laura Johnson and Liz Hayden, students capture photographs of subject material that is meaningful to them. In addition to gaining skills in photography, pupils also get the chance to show off their work in Open Studios and get the chance to have their photos chosen in the “top 10,” that includes prizes.

Thanks to donations from local photography studios, the top 10 photography students won packages to study with the studios.

The two year-old competition, in which 200 photos were included, was open to all faculty as well, not just students. Participants could choose whatever theme they wished, resulting in a wide variety of photographs.

“We just love seeing what they’re interested in,” said Laura Johnson, one of the art teachers. “We get to see the world through their eyes.” Johnson further noted the enthusiasm the kids have for each other’s works. In a few cases, students go on to pursue photography careers.

“Not every kid gets in an art class,” Taylor explained. “[The competition] makes sure everyone’s voice gets heard.”

The 2017 winners of the photography competition were Mr. Claudio Di Carlo {LHS Staff member!}, David Blake 2019, Johannes Elliot 2018, Justin Nardella 2019, Lilly DPietro 2019, Maddy Johnson 2018, Mia Daly 2020, Sofia Ciriello 2020, Stephanie Robles 2019, and Sydney Jean Simon 2020.

By Melanie Higgins


 

Pioneers baseball team still perfect after 10 games

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Ipswich, Manchester-Essex the team’s latest victims

The Lynnfield High School Baseball Pioneers have gone unscathed throughout the first half of the season with 10 straight wins, including a conquest over Ipswich, 10-1, in the annual Pitch in for Pete Tournament last Saturday at Lynn’s Fraser Field. The tournament is named after Pete Frates, the former Boston College baseball star who is fighting ALS, while also spearheading fundraisers to, hopefully, find a cure for this deadly disease.

Junior Cooper Marengi was the team’s offensive leader against the Tigers with three hits in as many at-bats, including a home run and three RBIs. Joey Mack singled in his hockey teammate Marengi to account for another run.

Justin Juliano was the team’s starting pitcher who went five innings, scattering two hits to go along with only one walk. But control was an issue for Juliano. He hit three batters, but he had a lot of leeway to make a mistake, because his offense was able to provide him with a safe cushion.

Coach John O’Brien is naturally quite pleased with the results so far, but he knows there’s still plenty of baseball to be played, before they even think about the state tournament.

The Pioneers doubled up visiting Amesbury, 6-3, last Thursday, April 27, to set up the Ipswich game as a part of the Frates Classic.

The Lynnfield boys followed up the Ipswich debacle with another win, this time against Manchester Essex, 4-2, to account for win No. 10 on May 2. They headed to Georgetown on Thursday, May 4, to face the Royals (after press deadline).

In a non-league game on Saturday, May 6, Malden comes to town to take on the local nine starting at 2:30 p.m. Lynnfield will then go up against Triton at Byfield on Tuesday afternoon, May 9, beginning at 3:45 p.m.

By Joe Mitchell

   

Meet the Pioneers 2017 Boys Varsity Lacrosse team

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In heart-stopping finish, Friends of the Rail Trail emerge victorious

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Select fields also pass in contentious Town Meeting

In an event that gives credence to the adage “every vote counts,” the contentious Rail Trail article eked out a victory Monday night at Town Meeting with a vote of 342-341. Thanks to a rousing campaign by the advocacy group “Friends of the Rail Trail” and the alleged thousands of hours of work dedicated to bringing the project to fruition over the past few decades, the selectmen will sign a 99-year lease with the MBTA, the body that currently owns the former railbed in town, that will allow the project to proceed into the next phase.

High drama accompanied the four hour and 15 minute assembly, which brought over 500 people into Lynnfield Middle School. Competition for seats in the main auditorium was tight, with many harboring in the nearby cafeteria, overseen by Bob MacKendrick.

The Rail Trail was perhaps the most hotly contested article on the warrant, but that wasn’t to say it was the only one. High stakes articles also included votes on repairs to the middle school track and field, and the Huckleberry and Summer Street School fields (article 25).

But the trail issue definitely stole the show. After spirited presentations by both sides of the issue – the Friends of the Lynnfield Rail Trail and the opponents group – voters made their decision. The Recreational Path Committee also presented facts gathered from their research.

Patrick Curley, one of the main voices associated with the Friends group, was almost disallowed from speaking. Lynnfield resident Michael Ceresani made a point of order requesting that Curley and any other interest group be disallowed to speak, arguing that such campaigning is equivalent to wearing political buttons or picketing outside a voting precinct, which is currently against the law – “The point is to be fair. We’re not supposed to have people recommending articles.”

Town Counsel Tom Mullen pointed out that such rules do not apply to Town Meeting, and Curley was allowed to proceed. Curley reiterated the same points the group has been making for many months: The rail trail would be free to Lynnfield, low cost to maintain, and bring innumerable benefits to its residents in the form of recreation and transportation. He also pledged that the design costs, which opponents have complained about, would be entirely fundraised.

Jim Gerace of the Citizens Against the Lynnfield Rail Trail responded with a series of rebuttals. Among the issues he cited were increased problems with traffic, surprise costs to taxpayers, and crime, the latter of which supporters have vehemently tried to discredit.

From the Recreational Path Committee, Robert Almy and Leah Hook attempted to cut through the fog with a set of facts. Almy pointed out that he is a seasoned researcher who is renowned for his objectivity. “Our mission is to be objective with everyone,” Hook emphasized. Among the facts about the path were that the cost would be covered by the State Transportation Improvement Program (STIP) fund, and the total length of the project.

Board of Selectmen Vice Chairman Dick Dalton explained his reasons for declining to endorse the project, which Selectman Phil Crawford seconded in the board’s decision not to recommend the article. Board of Selectmen Chairman Chris Barrett had recused himself, given that his sister is an abutter to the trail. Chief among the board’s reasons, Dalton explained, was the “lack of due diligence” paid to crucial elements of the project – including the items that the purported $7.1 million in STIP funds would cover. “Let’s not abandon process and due diligence on such an important decision,” Dalton said.

Others were not swayed. “We need a place where people can safely recreate,” said resident Keith Noble, in favor of the project. “Many people I speak to are afraid just to ride their bikes in town.”

Another resident, Steve Sorrentino, complained about the trail as a potential threat to his home value. “I am concerned about the value of my home,” Sorrentino, an abutter, said. “Would you gamble with the value of your home? Will you reimburse me if the value of my home decreases? I doubt it.”

When all was said and done, the friends of the rail trail emerged victorious, with the trail edging out a win in a remarkable 342-341 count. Meeting members were incredulous, with many getting out of their seats and the “Friends” group clapping each other on the back.

In a surprise twist, Curley made a motion to reconsider the vote, which if passed a second time, would allow the rail trail process to proceed unfettered by dissent in the future. The motion failed.

Going forward, the friends of the rail trail still have a lot of work to do. Money must be raised to pay for design costs, which is included in the estimated 75% of work to be done. And they must be chosen for STIP funds over a number of municipalities with critical public safety needs. But the vote is a major victory for a decades-old project that many believed would be doomed if rejected at Monday’s meeting.

Marijuana, budget, theatre, fields

While certainly the most colorful event of the night, there were still a number of significant outcomes. One of those was about marijuana. Marijuana shops are banned from Lynnfield – for now. The article does not prohibit medical marijuana, which is protected under state law. The vote in favor of banning the pot shops will be valid here on out unless the Attorney General decides to nullify it.

Some members were confused about why there were multiple articles aimed at restricting the drug, including both a ban and a moratorium. Counsel Mullen described the articles as a “belt and suspenders measure” that would definitively limit marijuana shops in the instance that the Attorney General invalidates the ban. It would also give the town “more time to think” about what steps to take if the ban is nullified. The ban passed with virtually no opposition, which is not very surprising given that the town has twice voted against the measure – once in last November’s general election and a few weeks ago in the town election. Articles 21 and 22, which are also restrictions on marijuana shops and were voted to be bundled together, also passed.

Another article – the movie theatre – was passed over to the delight of many. The meeting passed over the article at the behest of National Development, the development company in charge of the project. The company has expressed that it wishes to reintroduce the article at the fall town meeting after conducting more outreach to the community about the project.

Voters were also tasked with making a decision on the budget. Members waded through a lengthy Fiscal Year 2018 document that included 119 line items. Surprisingly, few quibbled with the budget, which is up 4% from last year at $52,837,797.

Resident Patricia Campbell took issue with the increase in the Town Administrator’s salary by .52% (up to $187,537), and any salary increases for that matter, without a comprehensive performance evaluation implementation. Board of Selectmen members pointed out that the board will be implementing performance evaluations in the near future, with a resolution just recently adopted in the past few weeks with the reorganization of the board.

On the flip side of the coin, Recreation Director Julie Mallett, who has had her performance evaluation scrutinized in the extreme, in comparison, saw her hard work pay off with members approving a 26% increase in her salary. Mallett’s raise has been the subject of some controversy recently, with Selectman Phil Crawford most notably refusing to vote in favor, citing a poor precedent for large salary increases. The move comes after research into comparable town recreation director salaries and determining that Mallett was far underpaid in comparison, especially given her performance and the fact that she runs the department with virtually no staff.

A motion by resident Katy Shea, which sought to appropriate $250,000 from free cash to pay for road repairs, failed in a vote. Town Administrator Jim Boudreau called the potential move “poor accounting practice” and noted that even with the extra funds, a busy DPW would likely not have time to perform the work needed. Shea raised the motion in light of evidence gathered from the Master Plan Survey, which determined that most people in town prioritize road and sidewalk repair as their number one wish.

Closely related, voters also approved a $1,796,418 Capital Budget to purchase “various equipment” – including, most notably, new police cruisers, defibrillators for the fire department, a school bus replacement, storm water drainage for the streets around Pilling’s Pond, $250,000 for school technology, and a highly coveted new 20-passenger van for the Senior Center. The Town Administrator called the budget “aggressive” and added that it addresses years past when capital items have fallen by the wayside.

Notably, voters also rejected a measure that would affect the parliamentary procedure of Town Meeting in the future. A measure proposed by the Board of Selectmen was roundly rejected by voters; it would have allowed the town moderator to take a voice count in instances where a two-thirds vote is required. Even with a clear two-thirds majority, in the instance if two people out of 500 objected to a vote, votes still have to be hand-counted. Currently, a voice count is used for a simple majority vote, which is 51% or more in favor.

Former Town Moderator Dave Miller, one of the dissidents, railed against what he believed is leaving precious votes to chance by leaving the count up to a moderator’s judgement. Miller was so adamant that a letter written by him was distributed to every member in the audience, detailing the possible ramifications of the vote – “Except for a unanimous vote, the only accurate way to ensure the will of the people is to perform a physical count.” He also pointed out that in most cases, two-thirds votes are called for articles of especially significant importance.

Resident Patricia Campbell seconded Miller’s argument. She suggested that the Town Meeting, in the future, use electronic keypads to ensure optimal accuracy.

In the end, the no’s won out. In subsequent Town Meetings, two-thirds votes will continue to require a hand count.

Lastly, in a much anticipated vote, the town voted to appropriate $2,250,000 for the repair of the Huckleberry and Summer Street School fields and the Middle School track and field.

Remaining articles

As typical with town meeting, the town passed a number of articles “by consent” – including 1, 2, 3, 11, 12 and 13 – which helps speed the meeting along. The move takes articles that are typically ceremonial in nature and lack the controversy that other articles might have, and approves them in one fell swoop. Here is a summary:

–This year the town voted to act on reports by Town officers (1), choose all Town officers not required to be chosen by ballot (2), fix the compensation of elective officials (3), reestablish revolving funds, including those for the Library, Board of Health, recreation, public works and Senior Center (11), appropriate a sum of money to pay expenses for EMS (12), and appropriate a sum of money to pay for the golf courses (13).

–Article 4, which asked members “to vote to raise and appropriate sums to supplement certain accounts in the current 2017 Fiscal Year where balances are below projected expenditures for various reasons,” passed without event.

–The town voted to “indefinitely postpone” article 5, which included appropriating monies to pay overdue bills, without discussion, given that there were no overdue bills to pay.

–Article 6, the article to establish a “special revenue fund” to receive cable franchise fees associated with public local cable access TV, also passed without event.

–Articles 9 and 10 appropriated 200k to the town’s Stabilization Fund and 200k to the Capital Facilities fund.

–Members voted to indefinitely postpone article 15, which would have raised and appropriated monies to create a clubhouse at the King Rail Reserve Golf Course. Prior cost estimates have put the clubhouse in the realm of $3 million, which selectmen have rejected. Reconsideration of the clubhouse will be made at a later date.

–Members approved Article 16, a housekeeping provision that would improve the way the Town of Lynnfield borrows money and maintains the money it borrows.

–Articles 17-19, which involved grammatical changes to the Town’s existing zoning bylaw, were postponed in absence of a recommendation from the Planning Board. The board is still in the process of revising the document.

–Article 28 – following no debate, the town voted to ban dogs from all athletic fields, not just the turf fields as currently defined under the town’s bylaws. The article was proposed as part of the effort to preserve the fields, which many agree are one of the town’s most valuable resources. Town Administrator Boudreau explained that many people are commonly letting their dogs run loose in the gated areas of some fields, where beyond the reach of their owners, they defecate and cause a nuisance for the athletes that subsequently use them.

–Article 29 – an article proposing to rename the middle school in honor of fallen firefighter Alan C. Melanson was passed over at the request of Melanson’s widow.

By Melanie Higgins


   

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