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The Sounds of Saugus

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By Mark E. Vogler


Good morning, Saugus!

  But it was hardly a good morning this time last week for the Saugus Public Schools Community when a 52-year-old Middle School teacher was arraigned in Lynn District Court the day after she was arrested for bringing fentanyl, a dangerous opioid, into the school – in fact, right into her classroom.

Roxanne Plaskon, 52, of Beverly, pleaded innocent at her arraignment last Friday (Jan. 26) in Lynn District Court after being charged with possession of a Class A substance. She deserves her day in court. And for that reason, town school officials and police aren’t saying much about Plaskon’s arrest.

The attorney who represented her said it is clear that Plaskon would likely lose her teaching job at the Saugus Middle School. It came out at the arraignment that she has no prior criminal record, but has been undergoing treatment for a drug problem. That begs the question as to whether school officials were aware of this at the time of Plaskon’s hiring or during her employment.

School officials and police in their statements to the media insist that neither the staff nor the students were ever at risk, and that the school and police handled the situation the way it should have been handled. “Both the Saugus Administration and Saugus Police Department addressed the situation, following the appropriate procedures and laws, to make sure that at no time was the safety of students or staff in jeopardy,” Saugus Public Schools Superintendent Michael Hashem said in his statement.

Obviously, the person who discovered the “suspicious white powdery substance” in the faculty bathroom used proper judgment by making sure police were aware of the situation. And police making a second trip to the school after a similar substance was found in a bag in the teacher’s classroom shows good collaboration on the part of police and school officials. Unfortunately, no matter what the police and school officials did, there will be a lot of Monday morning quarterbacking.

How did it happen that a seventh grade teacher brought fentanyl into the school? That’s a question that’s bound to be troubling a lot of parents in the Saugus Public Schools community today, particularly the ones whose children had Plaskon as their teacher.

Hopefully, Plaskon gets the help she needs to overcome whatever drug-related problem she’s being treated for. But the number one priority should be protecting the children. And their parents need to be assured that school administrators and police are doing everything they can to protect students from exposure to dangerous drugs like fentanyl in the learning environment. It’s an issue that merits some serious public discussion.

Saugus, like every community in the Commonwealth, has a drug problem. That should be abundantly clear from the federal indictments and prosecution of Saugus residents on drug charges in recent years. The latest incident involving the arrest of the Middle School teacher should be of serious concern for all civic-minded Saugonians – and a great starting point for some meaningful discussion.

Stay tuned.


EXTRA “Shout Outs” for Saugus firefighters

  We didn’t receive any nominations from readers who want to heap praise on fellow Saugonians for good deeds, acts of kindness or impressive achievements. So, as editor, I nominate the Saugus firefighters, particularly the ones who will be graduating today from the Massachusetts Firefighting Academy.

Saugus will be represented among the 26 recruits from 14 different fire departments who receive their certificates of completion at the Department of Fire Services campus in Bridgewater. There was an embargo on the story at press time yesterday, so stay tuned for the story in next Friday’s newspaper.


Want to “Shout Out” a fellow Saugonian?

  This is an opportunity for our paper’s readers to single out – in a brief mention – remarkable acts or achievements by Saugus residents or an act of kindness or a nice gesture. Just send an email (mvoge@comcast.net) with a mention in the subject line of “An Extra Shout Out.” No more than a paragraph; anything longer might lend itself to a story and/or a photo.


Food Pantry notes:

  The Saugus United Parish Food Pantry is open today (Friday, Feb. 2) from 9:30-11 a.m.


Legion Breakfast today

  There’s a good breakfast deal for Saugus veterans and other folks who enjoy a hearty breakfast on Friday mornings. The American Legion Post 210 at 44 Taylor St. in Saugus offers Friday morning breakfasts for the 2023-24 season. Doors open at 7:30 a.m., with breakfast served from 8-9:00 a.m. for an $8 donation. Veterans who cannot afford the donation may be served free.


Compost/Recycling Drop-Off Site winter hours

  The Town of Saugus Compost/Recycling Drop-Off Site is closed for the winter. But it will reopen for recycling on the third Saturday of February and March 2024 weather permitting. Please note: The site will be open on Feb. 17 and March 16 during the period from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Please contact Scott Brazis, Director of Solid Waste/Recycling, with any questions at 781-231-4036.


Town Meeting Sessions

  Precinct 10 Town Meeting Member Peter Manoogian is providing an opportunity for Saugus citizens who want to learn the basics about Town Meeting – the legislative body of Saugus town government. Manoogian is a veteran of about four decades in local town government at various levels, including many years as a Town Meeting member. The three sessions Manoogian will be leading this year are tailored for newly elected Town Meeting members or veterans who want to refresh themselves about Robert’s Rules of Order or how to put forward an article for consideration.

The sessions that Manoogian is planning are free and open to the public – for all interested citizens. The sessions will take place on these three nights – Feb. 16 and 29 and March 25 – from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. in the Community Room of the Saugus Public Library at 295 Central St.


Kowloon 80s Dance Party tomorrow nite

  The Kowloon Restaurant is set to host an 80s Dance Party with WildFire playing live in concert. The event is set for February 3; doors open at 6:30 p.m. and the show is from 8:30 p.m. to midnight. Tickets are $30 per person and include a light dinner buffet. Guests are invited to dress in 1980s costumes – with cash prizes awarded to the best dressed.

For more information, call the Kowloon Restaurant at 781-233-0077 or access online at www.kowloonrestaurant.com


Cornhole League begins Feb. 8

  The Knights of Columbus is holding a Cornhole League, starting Feb. 8. It will be held at 57 Appleton St. in Saugus. For more information and league rules, please sign up at https://www.volosports.com/l/6569015e70de58f41da6e7af


Pre-K Parent Information Night

  The Veterans Early Learning Center at 39 Hurd Ave. will host a Pre-K Parent Information Night on Thursday, Feb. 8 at 6 p.m. The event is designed for new parents to learn about the center’s preschool programming. Parents will get to learn about the preschool vision, entering the lottery, the registration process, financial obligations, daily operations, parent questions and registration documents. All Pre-K programs run Monday through Friday, with an early release on Wednesday.

Based on the child’s date of birth (DOB), placement will be in one of the following programs:

DOB between Sept. 1, 2020, and Aug. 31, 2021: three-year-old a.m. (8:30 to 11 a.m.), three-year-old p.m. (noon to 2:30 p.m.)

DOB between Sept. 1, 2019, and Aug. 31, 2020: four-year-old (8:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.)


Kindergarten Enrollment 2024-2025

  Open enrollment for kindergarten will begin on Monday, April 22, and continue through Friday, April 26. Kindergarten is free and full day (8:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m.). Families can pick up a kindergarten registration packet at the main office of the Veterans Early Learning Center between 9:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. Completed registration packets will be due on Wednesday, May 22, and Thursday, May 23, during the following hours: 9:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m. (All registration documents must be included on the packet return dates.) Staff will be available to collect your documentation at the main entrance. Once all documentation is confirmed they will schedule an appointment for a mandatory kindergarten screening. Kindergarten screenings will be held on June 3 & 4 and will last 20 minutes.

*While there is no official deadline for kindergarten registration, we ask that you register your student by May 24, to help us effectively plan staffing and programming for next year.”


SAVE 2024 Environmental Scholarship Available

  Saugus Action Volunteers for the Environment (SAVE) is very pleased to announce that it is offering a $1,000 Environmental Scholarship to a Saugus resident who is or will be attending a two- or four-year college or other educational institution and pursuing a degree in an area that would positively impact the environment. A qualifying applicant may be a 2024 high school graduating senior or a current college undergraduate student continuing their education.

Applicants can download the SAVE 2024 Environmental Scholarship Application Form found at www.saugusSAVE.org. Please note: Section C of the application should be identified with your initials only and should provide a brief summary of any of your activities relating to the environment, as well as describe how you feel your career choice will positively impact the environment.

Please email your application – no later than midnight on April 19, 2024 – to: SAVE Co-President Ann Devlin at adevlin@aisle10.net


What’s new at the Saugus Public Library?

  There’s always something interesting going on. Here’s a few activities with checking out:

Adult Craft Night: On the first Tuesday of each month, the library offers Adult Craft Night from 6 to 7 p.m. in the Brooks Room. This Tuesday (Feb. 6), those who attend will be making Mason Jar Luminaries. It’s your chance to bring a little light to the winter darkness! Please sign up in advance. Call or use the online Events Calendar to sign up – Saugus Public Library, 295 Central St., 781-2314.

$5 for a bag of books: If you love reading, here’s a great deal. Buy a New Friends of the Saugus Public Library mesh book bag for $5 and fill it with as many books as you’d like. Proceeds benefit the New Friends so they can support public library service in Saugus.


Bingo is back at the Kowloon!

  Join the Kowloon Restaurant for Wednesday Night Bingo. The event takes place every Wednesday from 7 to 9 p.m. and will continue to April 3. Entry is free. Games, prizes and music highlight the event.

For more information, call the Kowloon Restaurant at 781-233-0077 or access online at www.kowloonrestaurant.com


Winter is calling at Breakheart

  If you love hiking, nature and the great outdoors, there’s a lot going on this winter at Breakheart Reservation – courtesy of the state Department of Conservation & Recreation (DCR). All programs are free and open to the public. An adult must accompany children.

Reasonable accommodations are available upon request. Parking fees may apply depending on program location. For more information please email Jessica Narog-Hutton, Visitor Services Supervisor, at jessica.narog-hutton@mass.gov

Here are a few programs that DCR has in the works:

–On Sundays now through March, why not do something easy, like a Sunday morning hike, from 10 a.m. to noon. Check in at the Visitor Center (177 Forest St., Saugus). Join the Park Interpreter for a weekly guided hike. Each trip will highlight natural and historic features that make Breakheart unique. Hikes will be moderately paced and range from two to three miles over sometimes uneven and rocky terrain. This activity is best suited for ages eight years and up. Meet at the Visitor Center. The hike will be canceled in the event of heavy rain.

–On Thursdays now through March, the Camp Nihan Educational Center, at 121 Walnut St. in Saugus will offer the Wild Breakheart Series from 9 to 10 a.m. Join Breakheart staff for this rotating nature series that will explore different aspects of Breakheart in the winter time. This month check out the Winter Tree ID. Explore the birds that stay for the wintertime and how they thrive in a cold New England winter. Next month learn about animal tracking. Discover how tracks that animals leave behind can tell us a story about what they do when no one is around. In March be a part of the Breakheart Birding Club. Discover what birds are starting to come back for the spring and what birds stay from the winter.

–On Fridays now through March, check out Kidleidoscope from 10:30 to 11:30 a.m. at the Visitor Center (177 Forest St., Saugus). Come join a park interpreter for a story time and nature walk. Complete a small craft and explore the woods! Walks are gently paced and approximately one mile, though not accessible for strollers. This activity is appropriate for families with children who are three to five years old. Meet at the Visitor Center.

–On Saturdays now through March, “Step into the Past” from 10 a.m.to noon at the Visitor Center (177 Forest St., Saugus). Join the park interpreter to discover the park history. Hikes are about two and a half miles and moderate difficulty along rocky trails with several stops. Best for adults and older children with a keen interest in history. Meet outside the Visitor Center. This activity will be canceled in the event of rain.

–First and third Saturdays – Stories in Stone: Breakheart has been shaped not only by nature but by the many people who have called it home.

–Second and fourth Saturdays – Glacial Giants: Countless clues to a glacial past dot the landscape. If one knows where to look, this hidden geologic history can be revealed.


About The Saugus Advocate

  We welcome press releases, news announcements, freelance articles and courtesy photos from the community. Our deadline is noon Wednesday. If you have a story idea, an article or photo to submit, please email me at mvoge@comcast.net or leave a message at 978-683-7773. Let us become your hometown newspaper. The Saugus Advocate is available in the Saugus Public Library, the Saugus Senior Center, Saugus Town Hall, local convenience stores and restaurants throughout town.

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