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News

Baker-Polito Administration, Senator McGee Highlight Support for Enhancing Annuity Benefit Eligibility for Gold Star Families

Statute change will allow for $2,000 benefit payments retroactive to eligibility

BOSTON – In recognition of Memorial Day, Governor Charlie Baker, Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito, Secretary of Veterans Services Francisco Ureña, State Senator Thomas M. McGee and other members of the Legislature joined Gold Star Families at the State House to highlight bipartisan efforts enhancing the $2,000 annuity benefit available to Gold Star families.

The change would allow benefit payments retroactive to initial eligibility upon the death of a service member, supporting those who may miss an application deadline, or be unaware of the benefit while supporting their family after a loss. Current statute provides payment retroactive only to the date a family member first applies.

“The Commonwealth is grateful for our devoted service members and their families, and this gesture represents a small token of appreciation to honor those who have made the ultimate sacrifice while protecting and defending our country,” said Governor Charlie Baker. “As we approach Memorial Day, our administration is proud to join Senator McGee and the legislature to honor our veterans and Gold Star Families and ensure they are properly supported during a most difficult time.”

“The Gold Star Family annuity benefit is currently provided to approximately 2,400 spouses or parents each year,” said Lt. Governor Karyn Polito. “It is an honor to support our Gold Star community by proposing legislation to ensure that those who have lost a loved one receive the full annuity they deserve.”

“As a Commonwealth, we must stand firm with our allegiance to our service members and their families,” said Senator Thomas M. McGee, who filed the language that makes this change as an amendment to the Senate budget. “We must always choose to do the right thing for our service members, veterans, and their families whenever possible, and I am glad to work with my colleagues in the Senate, with the support of the Governor and his Administration, to take this first step to make these changes a reality as part of this year’s budget.”

The $2,000 annuity is provided annually by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and its Department of Veterans’ Services in recognition of service to the parents (Gold Star Parent) or spouse (Gold Star Wife or Husband) of Massachusetts’ residents who gave their lives in the service of their country, beginning the year the veteran died.

“Enhancing this benefit demonstrates our commitment as a Commonwealth to those who have served our country,” said Secretary Marylou Sudders of the Executive Office of Health and Human Services. “It is another way our Department of Veterans’ Services can serve as a resource for not only our fallen heroes, but their spouses and families in a time of need.”

“This proposal and these efforts are commendable, recognizing and correcting a flaw in current statute to ensure the families of the fallen receive the proper benefits,” said Veterans Secretary Francisco Ureña.

“Many Gold Star Families are often unaware of the benefits available to them as they experience the most difficult time in their life,” said Peggy Griffin, President, Greater Boston Chapter of Gold Star Wives. “This is especially true for widows who do not have service officers working with them or a designated representative to assist them through the maze of paperwork.  For those families without help, this bill will be welcome.  The Greater Boston Chapter of Gold Star Wives of America supports this proposal and actions like it, that help Gold Star Wives and their families.”

The Gold Star Parent Annuity Program began on July 1, 1998 and the Gold Star Spouse began on November 11, 2005. More information and application to apply for the benefit can be found here: http://www.mass.gov/veterans/benefits-and-services/bonus/annuity.html.

Last November, Governor Baker signed an Executive Order reaffirming and restructuring the Governor’s Advisory Council on Veterans’ Services, appointing members charged with advising the administration on how to best support the Commonwealth’s veterans through improved access to employment and job training, healthcare and well-being services, affordable and accommodating housing choices and educational opportunities.

Earlier in May, Governor Baker announced the Baker-Polito Administration’s Fiscal Year 2018 Capital Budget Plan will include a $8 million investment to begin constructing a new long-term care facility at the Chelsea Soldiers’ Home for veterans, a $199 million project in conjunction with the federal government. The facility is one of two state operated soldiers’ homes that provide both long-term care and domiciliary residential services.

 

Girls’ tennis team sweeps the week with four more wins

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Mezini reaches North quarterfinals for fourth straight year in State Individual Tournament

Thanks to Mother Nature’s fickleness in April, the Lynnfield High School girls’ tennis team (13-1) was forced to play four matches last week, but they responded like champs with victories across the board. The Pioneers defeated Ipswich (5-0, May 15), Rockport (5-0, May 16), Newburyport (3-2, May 17) and North Andover (4-1, May 18). They then had the State Individual Tournament last Friday and Saturday.

“I don’t recommend playing four matches in four days under regular conditions, but I give the players a lot of credit for hanging tough both mentally and physically,” coach Craig Stone said.

Against Ipswich, Sarah Mezini (6-0, 6-0), Camie Foley (6-1, 6-1) and Katie Nevils (6-0, 6-1) won the singles matches. The first doubles team of Laura Mucci and Makayla Maffeo (6-1, 6-2) kept up the winning trend, as did the second doubles team of Celeste Joly and Claire Yang (6-1, 6-1).

This match was almost postponed, but finally they had better luck with the weatherman, and the rain stopped just in time for the match.

“Our singles players were again dominant from start to finish,” said Stone. “We have a solid 1, 2, 3 punch with each of them capable of playing No. 1 singles on another team. “Then in doubles, Mucci combined with Maffeo for the first time this season, and quickly established dominance as if they were playing together all year long.”

He continued, “Freshmen Joly and Yang picked up their first varsity win in their first varsity match in second doubles. You will be hearing a lot from both of them in the future … We have a lot of depth on our varsity team with 13 players capable of playing at that level and being successful. Unfortunately, only seven can play at a time, and you can’t substitute during a match. As a result, you still must give your varsity starters enough playing time, as well. But fortunately, we have a team-first attitude, and starters do not mind giving up playing time to enhance the future of next year’s team.”

It was now time for Rockport. Mezini (6-0, 6-0), Foley (6-1, 6-1) and Alexa Vittiglio (7-6, 6-1) won the singles matches. Katie Nugent and Allison Carey (6-1, 6-1), and Rachel Strout and Makayla Maffeo (6-2, 6-2) completed the sweep playing doubles.

“We had no spring, but we just jump right into summer with temperatures reaching 78 during this match,” said Stone.

He added, “Mezini and Foley continue to roll. Interestingly, they both played male opponents, because Rockport does not have a boys’ team … Vittiglio, a much-improved sophomore, got her first career singles win after trailing at one point, 5-2, but she rallied to win the first set in a tiebreaker (7-5) and continued that momentum into the second set to secure the victory … Nugent and Carey were back in action after a day off, and they showed no rust. They yielded only two games in two sets … Strout and Maffeo teamed up again for a convincing win in second doubles. Strout is a senior, playing in her second varsity season, while Maffeo is a junior and has been a spot starter this season.”

It was a much closer match versus Newburyport. Mezini (6-1, 6-1), Foley (6-4, 6-3) and Nevils (7-6, 6-0) took care of business to win this match for the team. Nugent and Carey (1-6, 6-3, 4-6) and Mucci and Vittiglio (4-6, 6-2, 3-6); however, lost a couple of hard-fought doubles matches.

“It was even warmer during this match with temperatures reaching 92,” said Stone. “Mezini continued to play at a higher level than her opponent, pounding ground strokes from both sides of the court, and hitting serves that would make most players quiver … Foley had the most competitive singles match, but was able to make her opponent move wide and then hit winners to the other side or hit behind her opponent. … Nevils struggled in the first set against her backboard opponent, but after winning the first set in a tiebreaker (7-4), she settled down to win the next six games in a row … Both doubles teams came out of the gate slowly, dropping their first sets, but then had dominating second sets. They were then unable to maintain the momentum going into the third set.

He added, “Conditions were not comfortable. Every player was struggling with the heat. Our singles players were able to maintain focus and played up to their capabilities, but the doubles teams seemed to be tentative later in their matches, which made for a less than desirable outcome.”

The Lynnfield girls then went up against non-league North Andover. Mezini (6-0, 6-1), Foley (6-2, 6-1) and Vittiglio (6-3, 6-2) came out on top again in the singles matches. Nugent and Nevils won a thrilling first doubles match in three sets. But Mucci and Carey (2-6, 6-3, 1-6) ended up on the short end of their three-set marathon session in second doubles.

The State Individual Tournament continued last Friday after rain suspended early round action the previous weekend. On Saturday, May 13, Foley and the doubles team of Mucci and Vittiglio each won their first match, but lost their second encounter to eliminate them from the tourney. Nevils was leading in her first match, but had to default in the second round, because of a previous commitment. Mezini and the doubles team of Carey and Nugent each had a bye in the first round, and then won their second round matches to advance.

Last Saturday, May 20, Mezini defeated Abby Sartori of Amesbury (6-0, 6-3) and then Kayla Schwartz of Newton South (6-3, 6-1) to advance to the quarterfinals. Mehak Kang and Skye Bell of Concord-Carlisle eliminated Carey and Nugent (6-1, 6-1), but the match was much closer.

Then on Sunday, Mezini faced Mia Wallace of Arlington, the top-seed, and lost (6-2, 6-1). This was another close match with many deuce games, long rallies and outright winners from both players, according to Stone.

“Mezini becomes the first Pioneer in history to advance to the North Sectional quarterfinals for four consecutive years,” added her proud coach. “I have been impressed with Sarah’s play from the moment she stepped on the court as a freshman, and have continued to be amazed by her level of play. She has always competed above and beyond expectations, while at the same time demonstrating a level of sportsmanship that is also admired.

Stone said, “This tournament combines players from all divisions, and reaching [last] weekend is an accomplishment in itself.”

By Joe Mitchell

 

LHS Girls Varsity Softball Team Honors Seniors

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Girls’ lacrosse team cruises to two more wins, builds momentum for the postseason

The Lynnfield High School girls’ lacrosse team won two more games this past week to improve to 12-5, while continuing to build momentum for the postseason. The Lynnfield girls defeated Hamilton-Wenham, 14-6, and then non-league Bedford by the exact same score.

It was a hot day on the Lynnfield Stadium turf when the visiting Generals came to town. The Generals jumped out to a quick 2-0 lead about four minutes into the game, but after that surge it was all Lynnfield. The home team went on to outscore H-W, 12-2, to take a rather comfortable 12-4 lead into the halftime break. The home team was able to take advantage of a yellow card called on the Generals with just under one minute to play on the first half clock in order to widen the gap. The Pioneers then added two more early on in the second half to complete their offensive explosion.

Lilli Patterson continued her dominance on the ground, causing four turnovers, according to coach Ethan Blanchette, while Liv Smyrnios scored four times to lead the attack. She also chipped in with three groundballs and two caused turnovers. Gracie Sperling secured five groundballs to lead all players in that department, and Caroline Buckley won six draws, tops for Lynnfield in this game.

The Pioneers then took on the Bedford Buccaneers, and they wasted little time to race out to a decisive first half lead. Lynnfield was ahead, 10-2, at halftime, and then 11-2 just a few minutes into the second half. From that point on, the Pioneers slowed the pace down, but also committed several turnovers, which allowed Bedford to keep the margin of difference at eight throughout most of the game.

Ashley Barrett and Smyrnios each scored four goals to pace the offensive attack, while Buckley was credited with four draws and seven groundballs. Patterson collected six groundballs and also forced four turnovers to lead the team in that department. Sperling collected three groundballs and the same number of forced turnovers and draw controls.

By Joe Mitchell


 

Lynnfield laxmen wind down rebuilding season by honoring their veteran seniors

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The Lynnfield High School boys’ lacrosse team honored its hardworking seniors on Monday, May 15, before the game against Cape Ann League rival Manchester Essex. It was the team’s way to say thank you to them after four years of dedicated service to the program. Captain Kingsley Corona, Ryan Freitas, Jimmy Whelan and Dave Mineo took center stage to be singled out by their coaches, teammates and families in a well-deserved pre-game tribute.

The Pioneers then came out and played with great determination early on, according to coach Joe Papagni. They had revenge on their minds after the Hornets knocked them out of the state tournament last season. Both teams then battled back and forth throughout the first quarter. Goalie Kingsley Corona came up with three saves, while the Manchester goalie was equal to the task with five stops to keep things close on the scoreboard.

Peter Look, Jack Razzaboni and Ryan Freitas started at middies, with sophomore Antonio Deluca, Gianluca Alfe and Zach Huynh playing attack, which was consistent throughout the opening half. The locals controlled the play for at least eight minutes, but they just couldn’t find the back of the net.

Early on in the second quarter, Jack “Razz” took a pass from Captain Look, a fellow middle, and he promptly drilled a rocket of a shot past the stunned Hornets goalkeeper. It was the team’s first lead in a couple of games.

But the Hornets wasted little time to tie the score after winning the ensuing face-off, and scored on a fast break goal.

Freshman Peter Razzaboni was then able to win the next face-off, and as a result the offense began to get back on track. They possessed the ball in the offensive zone, but just couldn’t get a shot past the Manchester goalie.

But once again, the Hornets were able to get behind the defense on a missed pass attempt, and scored their second goal of the game on another fast break opportunity, where Kinsley had little chance to come up with the save. The Hornets were able to score another goal with just under two minutes remaining in the half to take a 3-1 lead.

Papagni and his assistant coach, Pat Lamusta, said afterward that they were confident the team would come back in the second half. “Our seniors were playing with pride, and our younger players all jumped on their shoulders ready to compete,” said Papagni.

Sophomore Antonio DeLuca, who earned his first start as a result of his great work ethic, scored his first career goal after taking a feed from Look to trim the deficit to one, 3-2. “Antonio weighs 130 pounds soaking wet,” said Papagni, “but he hung in the crease, took a feed from Look and muscled a shot home. I really appreciate when young athletes are given a chance and they produce for their team.”

The momentum from that goal was short-lived; however, after the Hornets offense started to exert itself. They were able to take advantage of the younger Pioneers, and promptly scored two quick goals to pull ahead, 5-3. Just before the half ended with the Pioneers enjoying a man-up situation, the Hornets intercepted an errant pass and scored their sixth goal of the game.

But the Pioneers didn’t let up. Jack Razzaboni took a feed from Look after Look picked up Peter Razz’s face-off attempt to get their teammates to within two, 6-4.

With the Hornets looking to pull away, they were able to force two penalties. Unfortunately for the Pioneers, the Hornets scored on each infraction to take an 8-4 lead.

As time was winding down, the Pioneers were forced to take defensive chances, which unfortunately led to three more Hornet goals to account for the final score, 11-4. “Those last goals are on me,” said Papagni. “We desperately wanted to give our seniors a nice Senior Night, so I chose to take some chances. The score was at least closer and our efforts were top rate.”

Last Thursday, May 18, the Pioneers traveled to North Reading to take on some more Hornets on their Senior Night.

“We got off the bus with the expectation of battling our league rival to the bitter end with the hope of beating them on their Senior Night, and I think we just out-hyped ourselves,” said Papagni.

The Hornets came out flying, and the Pioneers just seemed to be totally out of sync. The locals were trailing after one quarter, 8-1. Jack Razzaboni took a feed from line mate Peter Look to account for the Lynnfield score. Look and Freitas scored in the second quarter from Jack Razz, but the Hornets managed three additional goals to make it 11-3 at halftime.

Freitas, Look, Gianluca Alfe and Jack Razzaboni rounded out the Lynnfield offense with goals. It was certainly a disappointing 17-7 loss. “Prior to this year, we had beaten the Hornets five times. I guess our time was up,” said Papagni.

Despite the score, Corona was still sharp in net, making 23 saves. It just indicated the dominance of the Hornets.

“We will learn from this game, just as we have been learning from every game we have played this year,” said Papagni. “The positives are our younger players, who are not only getting a few life lessons, but are also learning what it takes to compete on this level.”

The locals then ended the week against the Tyngsboro Tigers last Saturday morning. Before the game, Papagni showed his appreciation for his team that had just helped out at the Lynnfield Geraniumfest. He said some of his players attended the junior prom the night before, but still came to the Geraniumfest to give something back to the town, and now they had an opportunity of representing the town again in a non-league game.

“These are just good kids doing what they should be doing,” the coach added.

Given the long day for many of them, they started the game a bit sluggish.

“We saw from our scouting report that Tyngsboro had a Division 1 scholarship player that we really wanted to concentrate on,” said Papagni, “and so we put Jimmy Whelan, our best long pole player, on him to try and take him out of the game … Jimmy did a great job on him, but those kind of kids (17 games into the season) figure a way to slip away from time to time, and that’s what he did.”

The Tyngsboro offense was all about good ball movement. They were able to put good pressure on the Pioneers throughout the first quarter to jump out to a 3-0 lead.

The Pioneers, however, fought back, with Jack Razzaboni hitting Freitas on a quick pass, and Ryan promptly beat the Tigers’ goalie cleanly.

But Tyngsboro made it 4-1, before Freitas returned the favor to Razzaboni. Jack was then able to beat the Tigers’ goalie through the five-hole to cut the lead in half, 4-2.

But the Pioneers couldn’t get any closer. The Tigers, however, scored two more second quarter goals to take a 6-2 lead at halftime.

The Tigers’ second half scoring continued, but Razzaboni and Freitas also scored, while Corona came up with 12 saves. Anthony Murphy and Look each had assists in the game that ended with Tyngsboro winning rather handily, 13-4. Whelan, Freitas, Look and Corona played tough throughout, despite the outcome.

“Once again, our young guys keep getting quality playing time against teams that are all tournament-bound,” said Papagni. “I am sure this will pay off down the road.”

The Lynnfield boys wrapped up the regular season earlier this week against Pope John at home (after press deadline).

By Joe Mitchell


   

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