For this week’s column, we reached out to each of the members of the Board of Selectmen and the School Committee and asked them if they would like to send a holiday message to our readers. All five selectmen responded. Three of the five School Committee members participated. Their individual holiday wishes to the residents of Saugus and their favorite holiday stories follow.
Q: Please share your thoughts on your Christmas gift for the town this year – something you hope to work for. One gift you want to give the town if it’s in your power as a public official.
Also, if you feel in the spirit, feel free to share a short, heartwarming Christmas story that is Saugus-related. Could be from your childhood or a holiday memory that sticks out with you this time of year.
Board of Selectmen Chair Anthony Cogliano
My Christmas gift to the town would be Health, Wealth and Happiness for all. Christmas is a time for family and I’m looking forward to spending it with mine.
I’ve been blessed with four wonderful children, Cassandra, Gabriela, Sophia and Anthony Jr. Add to that my beautiful granddaughter Luciana and another one just months away and I’m the luckiest man alive.
Holiday memory: I remember Christmas mornings with my sister Kathy and brothers Andy and Scott waking up to see everything we asked for and more under our tree and That’s what my wife Therese and I wanted to give to our children. I’ve also enjoyed helping those less fortunate for years, something I hope to continue to do for years to come. God bless you all, Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.
Board of Selectmen Vice Chair Debra Panetta
The one thing I’d like to give the Saugus residents is more clarity on what is to become of the school properties that are now offline. We had one public meeting this year where ideas were shared, and we need to have additional meetings to discuss a plan for these properties. It was clear that there are no plans to sell these properties but to use these sites to benefit the Saugus residents. I think the discussion was excellent, but we need to continue the conversation to ensure the best decisions are made for each neighborhood and for all of Saugus.
We need to continue to support our Police, Fire, and Schools.
It is also important that our Town remains financially stable, maintaining our AA+ Standard & Poor’s ratings.
I would also like to ensure that we remain a full-service community for our residents with no separate trash fee.
Favorite memory: One of my favorite memories is the Christmas Eve parade several years back. My family was excited to pull the candy house, and my husband and son drove the truck, and my daughter and I handed out candy. We had the best time, waving – and stopping to talk to residents. I remember driving by some residents, who were so excited when we drove by where this was the highlight of their holiday season. I’ll never forget the smiles on their faces.
I want to wish everyone a very Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, and Happy Holidays!! Wishing everyone a happy and healthy New Year. God Bless.
Selectman Jeffrey Cicolini
There are many important matters for our town that are in process; as you know, one item we have been working on for some time is developing a plan to bring a dog park to our community. The dog park committee, for which I am chair, along with assistance from our Town Manager and a few town meeting members have been working diligently to identify plans for a location and final layout and design of a dog park. We had two community outreach sessions including walk-throughs at a couple of locations. Our residents expressed a strong desire for a dog park and it has been heard loud and clear and we made sure it was included in our recently updated master plan. We anticipate applying for grant funding in 2023 to pay for a large portion of the construction of the park. We have created an official “Friends of Saugus Dog Park, Inc.”, a corporation that is in the process of applying for non-profit status. This nonprofit will hold fundraisers and collect donations to support any remaining construction costs along with funding for the long-term maintenance and upkeep of the park. We are very excited to see the progress as this has required a lot of time, energy and effort for everyone involved.
Holiday memory: As for a Christmas memory, I remember as a child the Christmas parade being such a big event in town. My dad’s close friend Billy Diotte was one of the key people to get it started. I remember how excited we all were to go down and take part in the holiday festivities. It is amazing to fast forward to today and see the same excitement exist not only in the younger generation but within my generation as well as those who are older than me. The parade, coupled with the holiday tree lighting and now the lighting of the Menorah are the type of events that unify our town and spread peace and prosperity. This is what makes Saugus a very special place to live.
Selectman Corinne Riley
I feel that the best gift to give to the town is to continue moving forward with practical approaches to projects such as revitalizing Cliftondale Square to bring in better and more businesses, and a Westside fire station that we’ve been trying for years to accomplish. The community has spoken loud and clear that these are priorities, and I am proud that the community is involved with these projects, and that we’ve got a Board of Selectmen that are involving the community on important issues like these and others, and that we’re exploring funding options other than hitting the taxpayer again and again.
Holiday memory: Having been lucky enough to have lived my childhood in Saugus with my mom, dad and my brother I have so many memories. I remember the Christmas concerts we had at the Sweetser School. I remember the kids’ Christmas parties that were in St. Margaret’s hall. The decorations down Cliftondale Square were unbelievable. I remember caroling and one of my favorite memories was dancing for Miss June’s Dance Studio in Odd Fellows Hall next to the 5 and 10, and going to the nursing home and performing in the hallway for the people that were there at Christmas time. Some things have changed but I enjoy making new memories with my children and grandchildren. Everyone have a wonderful Christmas season, Happy holidays and a healthy 2023!
Selectman Mike Serino
As a long-time public official in our community, my Christmas gift to the residents would be to continue to do my best in maintaining stability in town government and to continue to represent our community with integrity, dignity, pride and respect for one another.
Holiday Memory: During the Christmas season I always look back to when I was a kid growing up and spending the Christmas holiday at my grandfather’s house on Serino Way. My father came from a family of nine, so you can imagine how much fun it was for me as a kid during those times. I want to take this time to wish everybody a Merry Christmas and have a wonderful day with family and friends.
School Committee Chair Vincent Serino
As a member of the Saugus School committee, my Christmas gifts to the town would be a pay increase for all teachers, paraprofessionals, and support staff in our school district. I would also gift them more help in the classroom. With the growing enrollment and classroom sizes getting larger Saugus teachers and support staff need more help. I would also gift the parents and caregivers better communication from the district. We need to find better ways to let the stakeholders know what is happening and to give them a voice in their student’s education.
Holiday Memory: As far as a Saugus Christmas memory or story. I remember being a young kid and going to everybody’s house both family and friends on Christmas eve. We would walk from house to house in our neighborhood around Bristow Street. Everyone had plenty of food and holiday cheer. After we would go home and listen on the radio to where Santa’s sleigh was. This is the time of year to spend time with your family and friends. I want to wish Saugus a Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays.
School Committee Member Ryan Fisher
A Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to you and your family. It’s very easy to articulate what we want to do, but with limited resources and so many complexities it’s not never easy to get over the finish line. My gift to the town this year is to work really hard behind the scenes to give our educators and support staff the pay and resources they need to do their jobs well, and to support students and families by communicating well about the safe and supportive district we’ve been building.
Holiday Memory: Best Saugus Christmas memory? The Santa Parade! It runs right past my house on Forest Street. Both sides of my family are from Revere, and they always had big parties around the holidays, but we never wanted to miss the parade, and everyone came to us. The volunteers who worked so hard on it over the years gave us a lifetime of memories, and now my daughter is the one watching for Santa the second it gets dark out on Christmas Eve.
School Committee Member Leigh Gerow
Two issues I’m going to be focusing on in the New Year are Transportation and After School Enrichment. I hope to support the progress to ensure that proper transport is available to students and families who need it. In addition, to help foster the current After School program we have in place and allow it to continue to grow so that students have a safe place to be during after school hours.
Holiday Memory: This time of year I’m reminded of how welcome the people of Saugus have made me feel. Not being a native of Saugus, folks have embraced my family as their own. My daughter has found an amazing community in the Belmonte Steam Academy. As a new School Committee Member, I have found many allies in town who have been willing to support my journey and guide me to success.