en English
en Englishes Spanishpt Portuguesear Arabicht Haitian Creolezh-TW Chinese (Traditional)


Your Local Online News Source for Over 3 Decades

Malden Year in Review: COVID-19 pandemic began and ended 2021 as top headline

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Malden students returned to school ‘in-person’ – city councillors approved dramatic changes in infrastructure

  The once-in-100 years COVID-19 pandemic has been at the top of local, state, national and world headlines for nearly two years now. In this past 2021 calendar year, stories of Malden’s state of affairs in respect to how its residents were faring as a result of the pandemic and how government, at all levels, was responding to the Coronavirus, dominated the news from start to finish. In between there were some major moves made with dramatic effects on major infrastructure; some new faces elected to city government; a return to in-person learning, and strides toward improved equity and inclusion in the Malden Public Schools.

  The following is a look at 2021, month-by month.

  JANUARY: As the New Year began, the first winter season since the COVID-19 pandemic was declared in the spring of 2020 had begun and coronavirus cases had begun to spike, shortly after the Christmas holiday. In a related story, Malden residents were among those across Massachusetts as among the first in the nation to receive federal Pandemic-EBT funds to buy food, $58.40 per student. Also in the first week of the year, the city was in the midst of grief due to the numbing tragedy of the shooting murder of Jayden Brito-White, 18, outside his Bowdoin Street Apartments home on Dec. 29. A single suspect was arrested on Jan. 13 and charged in the Malden teen’s murder: Sifeddine Rogadi, 20, of Everett. News of the availability of the first doses of COVID-19 vaccine – for Malden’s first responders – was welcomed in January. Due to the pandemic, another local tradition, the annual North Shore Black Women’s Association luncheon, was cancelled for the first time since it began in 1993. A Malden man, Mark Sahady, 47, was arrested in connection with the attack on the U.S. Capitol (Jan. 6), and in a related story, a “Reject the Coup” rally protesting that attack was held on Jan. 20 beside Malden City Hall organized by Our Revolution Malden and the Democratic Socialists of America. Trevor Noah’s autobiographical story, “Born A Crime,” was announced as Malden Reads’ 2021 citywide selection.

  FEBRUARY: In February it was announced that Malden’s response to the pandemic has included a Rental Assistance and Eviction Program with over $500,000 overseen by the Malden Redevelopment Authority (MRA). Early in February, Malden Public Schools welcomed back over 600 Malden PreK-to Grade 2 students to “in-person” learning after nearly seven months of remote learning school time in their homes due to the pandemic. Several Malden High School seniors were awarded full, four-year academic scholarships to leading colleges and universities through the QuestBridge National College Match scholarship. A 23-year-old Malden man, Deven Kelley, was arrested and charged in connection with a double-shooting in Salem, Mass., where two victims were injured. Malden Board of Health opened an exclusive COVID-19 vaccine information call center to assist residents seeking vaccine shot appointments. The Greater Boston League (GBL), which already included Everett High, Malden High and Revere High, voted to expand to eight schools, with the additions of Lynn Classical HS and Lynn English HS. For the first time ever, Mayor Gary Christenson delivered his 10th annual State of the City Address virtually online. A 29-year-old MIT graduate from Malden, Quinxuan Pan, who was considered “armed and dangerous” by federal U.S. Marshals, was being sought for questioning in the Feb. 6 shooting death of a Yale University student. Five candidates seeking special permits to operate marijuana sales businesses in this city were interviewed by the Malden Cannabis Licensing and Enforcement Commission. Malden Access Television (MATV) officially announced it was changing its name and vision to be Urban Media Arts (UMA). Councillors Craig Spadafora and Amanda Linehan (Ward 3) announced that a Fellsmere Pond Park redesign plan has been completed.

  MARCH: In March the month started with the acknowledgement that Malden Public Schools was a regional leader for its work as a district in the areas of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI), receiving and spending nearly $1 million in grants in the course of participating and/or initiating more than 30 programs related to DEI progress – all in the midst of the pandemic. Also, the city’s newly hired and first-ever DEI Coordinator, Bybiose Larochelle, began work in the Mayor’s Office. March also began with the arrest of a 20-year-old Malden man, Dhamari Jordan, in a joint effort between a federal organized crime and drug investigation team and Malden Police on charges in connection with operating a fentanyl and cocaine drug trafficking enterprise. In City Council news, Ward 6 Councillor David Camell announced he would not seek reelection to a third term, and Councillor Stephen Winslow announced he would give up his at-large post to seek the newly open Ward 6 Councillor seat. Malden was announced as the ninth Safest Community in Massachusetts by AdvisorSmith. The GBL kicked off its Winter Season to mark the first return to high school sports competition in nearly a full calendar year, due to the pandemic. First responders were in the news as two Malden Police Officers, Ken Watkins and Richard Doherty, were commended for saving a shooting victim’s life in a Walgreens parking lot on March 4, and Malden firefighters from Malden Engine 1, Engine 3 and Ladder 3 combined to save a dad and his six-year-old son after they fell through the ice at Fellsmere Pond. A bizarre pedestrian accident claimed the life of 86-year-old Athena Hartwell, who was traveling on her usual path alongside Hunting Street in front of the EconoLodge and was struck by an out-of-control SUV. Ward 8 Councillor Jadeane Sica and Councillor-at-Large Craig Spadafora introduced Malden’s first “Community Fridge” in Linden Square. The City Council unanimously approved the new, long-awaited Trash & Recycling Program proposed by Mayor Christenson. The Malden School Committee, in a 5-4 vote, selected Ligia Noriega-Murphy, a 26-year Boston Public Schools product, as the district’s new Superintendent of Schools to replace outgoing, four-year Supt. John Oteri as of July 1, 2022, from among three finalists. The City Council reviewed Open Meeting Law violation complaints made by Ward 4 Councillor Ryan O’Malley against Ward 8 Councillor Sica. Dozens of Malden residents were left homeless when the roof collapsed on a six-story apartment building at 166 Salem St. on March 27.

  APRIL: In April, City of Malden officials kicked off the month by announcing that the new Recycling & Trash program would begin on April 12, featuring Blue and Green city-provided plastic barrels for trash and recycling. The City Council discussed the 166 Salem St. building roof collapse, with a presentation by Building Commissioner Nelson Miller, and the exclamation by Councillor at large Craig Spadafora, “How no one was hurt in that area is a miracle.” The “in-person” return of students to the Malden Public Schools continued as Grades 3, 4 and 5 were welcomed back. A quick-thinking Malden Housing Authority worker, Shawn Nice, 22, was acknowledged by Malden Police and Fire Depts. as instrumental in helping get three children and an older teen out of a burning apartment in the Newland Street housing area the previous week. Malden native Paul Campbell became the first local star in 21 years to appear on a professional Major League Baseball (MLB) mound when he pitched for the Florida Marlins in relief against the Tampa Rays on April 3. Malden residents Jaiir Coleman, 22, and Christina Bernbaum, 23, faced multiple federal and state weapons and drug charges in connection with five shootings in Chelsea and Somerville and drug conspiracies in at least two states. The City Council unanimously approved a $90 million development project that will include a nine-story, state-of-the-art office building in the heart of Malden Square at Pleasant and Dartmouth Streets. With a 9-2 vote in favor, the City Council, in another momentous April vote, accepted a pair of grants that would fund a major transformation of Malden’s most-traveled roadway, Route 60/Eastern Avenue/Centre Street, converting it from two lanes to single lanes for vehicles, plus a bicycle lane and a dedicated bus-only lane, a plan championed by Councillors Ryan O’Malley (Ward 4) and Stephen Winslow (at-large). “Fall 2” season sports, including football and soccer, began in mid-April, after Fall season 2020 was postponed. It was announced Malden Public Schools was receiving $15.8 million in federal American Rescue Plan emergency education funds. Malden was ranked #2 in its population category in “Top Spots to Live North of Boston” by Boston.com. Mayor Christenson named a new Opioid Task Force designed to address the spike in overdoses in Malden and the region.

  MAY: City Engineer Yem Lip made a presentation to the City Council on the city embarking on an extensive, $4.7 million underground water pipe evaluation project. After 10 years on the City Council, Councillor-at-Large Debbie DeMaria announced she would not seek a sixth term, thus leaving a second at-large seat open in the upcoming fall election for the first time in nearly two decades in Malden. Mayor Christenson proposed Malden’s first Inclusionary Zoning Ordinance. Malden Public Schools, through the efforts of Business Manager Toni Mertz, unveiled its new food truck designed to help enhance food security. Mayor Christenson proposed a $188.1 million municipal budget for Fiscal Year 2022. City officials reported Malden’s percentage of vaccinated residents had surpassed state averages due to reach-out efforts. Malden High School students and some Grades 6-8 students returned to in-person learning for the first time since 2020. MHS Junior Varieties did not miss a year, as the 81st production was held “live” in the Jenkins Auditorium, albeit, for the first time in May, not its usual March. Over 1,500 Malden High School students out of 1,700 total responded to a Youth Truth Survey – included as part of a committed program to foster and promote equity and inclusion among and between its students and staff, with 73 percent responding they felt “strongly supported” by MHS staff and administration both before and during the pandemic during the past 12-16 months. On a tragic month-ending note, Simon Daponta, a 19-year-old Malden High graduate from the Class of 2020, was killed in a crash on Interstate 93 on May 28. The new Bridge Recovery Center on Commercial Street held its official Grand Opening and Ribbon Cutting. Tous les Jours, Evviva Trattoria and 110 Grille all officially opened in Malden Square. City Hall officially reopened to the public at 215 Pleasant St. New Korean War and Vietnam War memorials in Malden were unveiled on Memorial Day.

  JUNE: Malden High School became the first school in the region since the pandemic began to raise the Pride Flag, signaling support for the rights of students and all others in the LGBQT community during Pride Month. A fully interactive outdoor playground was officially opened at the Beebe School, offering full access and enhancements for physically and intellectually challenged students and Malden residents, through grants obtained by the Malden Public Schools. Malden High School graduated 402 members of its Class of 2021 in a traditional ceremony at Macdonald Stadium on Pearl Street. COVID-19 vaccine clinics hosted by the Malden Board of Health continued around the community, including in Malden High School and the Salemwood School. It was announced by Supt. John Oteri that the Malden High School Class of 2021 was one of the highest achieving classes in school history, with 81 percent of its members moving on to higher education, 49 percent of its students achieving Honor Grades of a 3.0 grade point average (GPA) or higher and 15 percent of its students (62 students) achieving 4.0 or higher GPAs, “all A’s.” Malden Public Schools held its first-ever Juneteenth Flag Raising – at Malden High School – on June 16, “in a show of support for our students and staff of color,” Supt. Oteri said, as part of a national celebration. The Malden City Council approved a $187 million municipal FY22 budget, which including $76 million for the Malden Public Schools and increased funding for both the Malden Police Dept. and Malden Fire Dept. Summer Festivals opened in Malden Square and were a big success all season.

  JULY: Malden Police and Fire Dept. personnel responded to a bizarre incident where a rabid raccoon attacked and injured a Malden couple in their backyard on Winship Street in the Forestdale neighborhood. The MBTA formally approved funding for a $750,000 project in Malden that will convert Route 60/Eastern Ave. to one single lane of travel from Franklin Street to the Malden Center Orange Line station. An Everett man, Brian Butler, 30, was held without bail in the shooting murder of an Everett woman in a Malden home invasion on Fairmont Street on July 6. Congresswoman Katherine Clark was in Malden on July 14 delivering good news about a $3.36M federal funding request for a Malden lead pipe replacement project. (Ultimately, Malden received that grant confirmation in December.) Three former Malden City Councillors threw their hats in the ring for one of the three at-large Council seats for the fall election – Jeff Donahue, John Matheson and Chris Simonelli – joining a crowded field of six candidates who ended up on the ballot in the fall. (Only one, Simonelli, was ultimately elected.) Malden High School hired alumnus Witche Exilhomme as its new football Head Coach for the upcoming 2021 season. Malden High principal Chris Mastrangelo publicly thanked and acknowledged Malden restaurants All Seasons Table, El Potro, Evviva Trattoria, Dockside Restaurant, Donut Villa, 110 Grille and Pearl Street Station for donating all of the food, totaling thousands of dollars in all, to ensure a Malden High School traditional prom was held at the school the previous month. Newly hired Superintendent of Schools Ligia Noriega-Murphy hosted a Town Hall–style forum at Malden City Hall on July 31. After many months of planning and strategy, the Malden Redevelopment Authority became an official department of the City of Malden. The Malden Chamber of Commerce celebrated its 130th year in the city.

  AUGUST: A talented Malden resident, Alex Potocki, embarked on an exciting new stage of his career when he traveled to Las Vegas to join the exclusive dance group “The Jabbawockeez.” Results from the 2020 federal Census revealed that Malden’s official population had soared to a record-high of 66,263, up nearly 12 percent from 59,450 in 2010, and, for the first time ever, Malden is officially a “majority-minority” community, dropping below 50 percent of residents identifying as White, from 53 percent in 2010 to 40 percent in 2020. Malden’s third murder of 2021 was reported on August 15 when Joshua Roush, 43, was arrested on charges he hacked to death his roommate, Brian McDonald, 34, in the apartment they shared at 19 Presley St. Roush remains held without bail on that charge. The chairman of the Mystic Valley Regional Charter School Board of Trustees, at a City Council meeting told Councillors, “We will sue… and we will win” if the City Council or other city officials or boards tried to impede a plan to expand the school’s footprint in the Maplewood Square area, through real estate purchases and future demolition and construction plans. In a letter to Malden Public Schools families, Supt. Noriega-Murphy outlined details of the planned full return to in-person learning for the school district’s nearly 6,000 students and staff. The Malden City Council honored beloved former City Council President Herbert Jackson with a rededication of the City Council Chambers. Malden city and health officials urged all residents to get vaccinated against COVID-19. Mayor Christenson and Police Chief Kevin Molis announced that Malden Police will begin use of body cameras for uniformed personnel. The Malden CARES Pilot Program, providing information and resources in an extended outreach mode, and backed by Ward 1 Councillor Peg Crowe, Councillors Murphy, Sica, Spadafora and others, was funded for two years.

  SEPTEMBER: Malden Police seized two illegal guns and a cache of illicit drugs shortly after they responded to a call of a disturbance at the Town Line Inn Motel at 735 Broadway on September 2. Mayor Gary Christenson announced the launch of the city’s new Transparency Center – meant to provide a platform for residents to gain greater insight into city spending and project management. Incumbent Ward 8 Councillor Jadeane Sica captured 54 percent of the vote, and challenger Nate Bae Kupel won 30 percent to earn the right to challenge her in the final election in November in the only preliminary election held on Sept. 14. A third candidate, Amy Friedman, was eliminated with 14 percent of the vote. Malden High School launched a new scheduling and curriculum addition – designed to enhance inclusion as well as student voice and choice – titled “Flex Block.” City Council candidates began participating in various virtual candidate forums hosted by various groups. Longtime Ward 7 resident Marion Desmond, active in the community for decades, was the recipient – from Mayor Christenson and City Council President Anderson – of a Lifetime Achievement Award for her many years of helping others in Malden. Mayor Christenson announced a $1.1 million commitment in funding for the completion of the Trafton Park improvement project initiated by Councillors Camell, Winslow and Spadafora. It was announced that longtime Edgeworth neighborhood favorite Spadafora Slush would be closing for good at the end of this season.

  OCTOBER: The City of Malden was asked to make a $36 million commitment to help finance a new, state-of-the-art school building for the Northeast Metropolitan Vocational Technical High School in Wakefield. Malden’s Director of Community Development Alex Pratt gave a detailed presentation and analysis of the Census 2020 results for the City Council, providing a revealing look at the city’s newest demographics. “For the first time on record, Malden is majority people of color,” Pratt said. The Malden City Council voted unanimously to approve changes to the city voting map which would redraw ward boundary lines and move some city blocks into different wards. In a historic move, included in the changes was an increase from two precincts per ward to three precincts, which is believed to be the first time ever in Malden. A 45-year-old Malden man and four Revere residents were among 12 suspects in the area indicted in connection with an alleged ongoing “10-percenter” lottery ticket cashing scam. Four suspects were arrested, and two handguns were confiscated after Malden Police responded to a report of an armed robbery in the Bowdoin Street area the night of October 21. A powerful nor’easter rainstorm soaked Malden with a one-two punch on October 25-26, causing considerable damage around the city due to downed trees and power lines. A steering committee was announced for the planned, new Malden Arts and Culture Center at the site of the former Malden Courthouse on Summer Street. About 2,000 turned out for Malden’s annual Public Safety Day held at the Linden School. The City of Malden received a $400,000 state grant to help fund the ambitious $3 million Devir Park rehabilitation and renewal project now underway under the direction of longtime Ward 2 Councillor Paul Condon.

  NOVEMBER: City officials announced that instead of the longtime favorite Parade of Holiday Traditions, Malden would welcome the launch of the Malden Winter Festival along Pleasant Street in Malden Square on the first Saturday in December. It may have been the lowest turnout for a citywide election in municipal history, with just 20 percent, or only 7,187 voters, casting ballots out of over 35,000 registered (highest number of registered voters in city history). Still, the low turnout brought anticipated changes, with three open City Council seats and three more openings on the School Committee. New faces on the City Council elected on Nov. 5 were Karen Colón Hayes (at-large), Carey McDonald (at-large) and Chris Simonelli (Ward 7). New to the School Committee were Keith Bernard (Ward 7), Dawn Macklin (Ward 4) and Sharon Zeiberg (Ward 8). Malden returned its Veterans Day Parade – coordinated by Malden American Legion Post #69. Enrollment was soaring in the Malden Public Schools with over 500 new students in just the period between Sept. 1 and Nov. 1. Malden state Rep. Steve Ultrino was officially honored as “Legislator of the Year” by the Mass. Association of School Superintendents at a Malden School Committee meeting. Longtime Malden/Medford state Rep. Paul Donato was congratulated on his 80th birthday. MHS senior Christelle Jean was introduced as the newest representative to the School Committee. The Malden High Golden Tornado Club welcomed six individuals, a Distinguished Service Awardee and the 1973 Hockey Team to its 35th Hall of Fame at a Nov. 18 banquet. The Malden High Football Team handed first-year Head Coach Witche Exilhomme a 12-10 win in the 134th Thanksgiving meeting with Medford. Malden welcomed over two dozen newly trained Addiction Recovery Coaches to the city. Malden Police Officer Michael Langston was seriously injured after being struck by a motor vehicle while assisting a motorist on Main Street. Langston is recovering from his injuries.
DECEMBER: The Malden Public Schools launched its first English Learners Parent Advisory Council for caregivers and students whose first language is not English. Malden held a very successful Winter Festival, Holiday Tree Lighting and Menorah Lighting, all in the heart of Malden Square. Despite mixed reviews, the Malden School Committee voted to extend for one year the contract of its bus company responsible for transporting a segment of its Special Education students, North Reading Transportation (NRT) of Lynn. The Malden School Committee at its last meeting of 2021 bid farewell to more than 50 years of combined political service as longtime members Leonard Iovino (Ward 4), John Froio (Ward 8) and Michelle Luong (Ward 7) all participated in their final meetings, as each did not seek reelection this past fall. A 27-year-old Malden man, Yassine Khaouda, was charged in the Dec. 15 stabbing murder of his own father, Mohammed Khaouda, 65, in the basement garage of the Malden Square apartment complex where they shared a residence. It was the fourth Malden murder in the past 11 1/2 months. Malden Police have suspects in custody for all four slaying cases. The Malden City Council voted in favor of a new four-year contract for Malden firefighters and a new three-year contract for parking enforcement employees. A permanent memorial honoring former Mayor, state representative and City Councillor Ed Lucey will be mounted in City Hall Plaza after a unanimous vote of the City Council. Malden Arts outlined plans for a COVID-19 memorial honoring Malden victims and heroes from the pandemic – an idea originated by Councillor-at-Large Debbie DeMaria – to be placed at Franklin Street alongside the Northern Strand Community Trail. Ward 5 Councillor Barbara Murphy and her “elves” welcomed Santa Claus to his 72nd Annual Visit to Pine Banks to greet Malden children. Mayor Christenson announced that a full-funded Language Access Plan is coming to Malden on a citywide basis. The City Council and members of the public bid adieu to longtime Councillors Neal Anderson (Ward 7, 28 years), Debbie DeMaria (at-large, 10 years) and David Camell (Ward 6, four years), all of whom did not seek reelection this fall and participated in their final City Council meeting. The City of Malden began distributing more than 20,000 at-home Rapid COVID-19 Tests free of charge to Malden residents, including several thousand to Malden Public Schools students to take home, just before their dismissal for Winter Vacation.

The year opened in January with Malden residents grieving the late December loss of 19-year-old Jaden Brito-White in a gun slaying outside the Bowdoin Street Apartments.
YEAR IN REVIEW: Shown above, in August, the City Council Chambers were rededicated for the late former longtime Malden City Councillor and State Rep. Herbert “Herbie” Jackson.
The city had its first Winter Festival in the heart of Malden Square and the event, held in place of the former Parade of Holiday Traditions, drew hundreds to the downtown on Dec. 4.
State Rep. Steven Ultrino, D-Malden, was recognized as “Legislator of the Year” by the Mass. Association of School Committees. Shown above, from left, Glenn Koocher, MASC Executive Director, Malden School Committee members Jenn Spadafora (Ward 1). Len Iovino (Ward 4), John Froio (Ward 7), Supt. Ligia Noriega-Murphy, Malden High Student Rep Christelle Jean, Rep. Ultrino, School Committee member Adam Weldai (Ward 5), Mayor Gary Christenson, Ward 5 School Committee member Robert McCarthy Jr., Michelle Luong (Ward 7) and Joseph Gray (Ward 6).
Plans to turn the former Malden District Courthouse on Summer Streets into a new, city center for cultural activities and the arts took another big step forward when Mayor Gary Christenson announced a Steering Committee had been formed to oversee the building’s planned transition.
After spending much of the previous 18-month period in a remote learning setting, newly-hired Superintendent of School Ligia Noriega-Murphy and her staff welcomed nearly 6,000 Malden Public Schools students in a return to full, in-person learning to start the 2021-22 school year in September.
Malden City Councilors joined with friends and family members of the late former longtime Malden City Councilor and State Rep. Herbert “Herbie” Jackson, in an August ceremony where the newly reopened Malden City Hall Council Chambers were rededicated in his name.
Class of 2012 alumnus Witche Exilhomme was announced as the new Malden High School head football coach for the 2021 season. Above, he was also in the spotlight as a selectee for Boston25’s “Hometown Heroes” series in July, shortly after the announcement of his hiring by MHS Principal Chris Mastrangelo and Athletic Director Charlie Conefrey.
Malden High School Students and staff continued to be leaders in promoting and embracing diversity, equity and inclusion in our community when Principal Chris Mastrangelo and Superintendent John Oteri presided over the raising of the PRIDE Flag for LGBQT support and the Juneteenth Flag celebrating Juneteenth Day. Malden Public Schools is the first district in the region to raise either flag, the PRIDE Flag (third from top) for the past five years running, the first this year to raise Juneteenth Flag (fourth from top).
On Memorial Day, the city unveiled new Bronze sculptures commemorating those Malden residents who served in the Korean and Vietnam Wars, in a ceremony at Forest Dale Cemetery.
On Memorial Day, the city unveiled new Bronze sculptures commemorating those Malden residents who served in the Korean and Vietnam Wars, in a ceremony at Forest Dale Cemetery.
Malden’s new Trash and Recycling Program was unveiled by Mayor Gary Christenson, following unanimous approval by the Malden City Council, replacing the 12-year-old Pay As You Throw program.
YEAR IN REVIEW: Shown below, Malden Police Officers Richard Doherty and Ken Watkins were hailed as heroes for saving the life of a gunshot victims who had careened into the parking lot of Walgreens in Malden Square in March, bleeding heavily from their wounds. The pair WAS later in the year honored for their heroism. At left Police Chief Kevin Molis, at right, Capt. Glenn Cronin.
MATV (Malden Access Television) in February announced it was changing its vision, logo and name to Urban Media Arts (UMA) beginning in 2021.

Contact Advocate Newspapers