Calling Saugus 4-1-1 – tomorrow!
Good morning, Saugus! Here’s my bold prediction of the week. “Saugus 4-1-1” is going to be the most-attended event of the weekend and the town’s biggest indoor event of the year.
With so many town officials, school officials and nonprofit organizations and groups behind the scenes organizing this special three-hour forum at the new Saugus Middle-High School, how can you not expect a large crowd? Even if it’s to get a chance to tour the new Saugus Middle-High School for the first time. A lot of town residents haven’t done that yet.
So, if you don’t have anything planned from 9 a.m. to noon tomorrow (Saturday, Oct. 15), head down to Saugus Public School’s beautiful educational complex. And don’t forget to bring a large shopping bag with you to carry out all the useful handouts that will be distributed by various town department heads, the School Department, nonprofit organizations and groups. They will be there to hand out gobs of good stuff – or “pass-outs,” as Selectman Corinne Riley, the catalyst and organizer of this event, likes to call them.
“The plans for the day itself are to have a welcome/sign-in table inside the main entrance, the tables of information of each nonprofit/houses of worship, and school district and town information will be throughout the first floor,” Riley told me.
“A video loop is planned showing videos as well as still pictures by Charles ‘Zap’ Zapolski, Jim Harrington and Chris Riley being presented during the event,” she said. “Art students will be creating the placards of the groups that registered, and students are being asked to volunteer to interpret for our English as a second language families to help with any questions they may have. To every new family ‘Welcome to Your New Home’ and to all who may have lived here longer, reacquaint yourselves with our town, and see what has replaced the old SHS.”
This week, I asked Janice Jarosz – a civic-minded Saugus native extraordinaire and longtime writer and booster of community pride and history, and most recently the interim secretary to the Board of Selectmen – to put this event into context, as far as Saugus is concerned.
“This event is a first!!” Janice wrote me in an email yesterday.
“Town officials took it upon themselves to coordinate the event welcoming newcomers about services available such as recycling, trash information, lists of town officials/Town Meeting Members, precinct locations and where to vote to name a few,” she continued. “There will be over 20 tables with non-profits passing out information on what various organizations are active in the community along with tours of the new Middle/High School. All are welcome to this brand new free welcoming event.”
Well, that sounds like a pretty good endorsement for a pretty special event.
This event is going to be so huge, I predict, that I may run out of business cards as I make the rounds. (The 10-year supply Jim Mitchell gave me five years ago is running low anyway!) This is shaping up to be a classic mega-orientation session for Saugus newcomers as well as a refresher course for folks who are already rooted in the community but might be interested in getting reacquainted with their hometown.
See you at 9 a.m., Saugus. I will be there to use up my business cards.
Did COVID kill Saugus’s Haunted House?
As the saying goes, “All good things must come to an end.” And, as we’re finding out, COVID-19 has led to the demise of many of our favorite things in life – particularly restaurants and stores and various social activities. I just learned yesterday that one of the scary, great Halloween season attractions – “the Haunted House” creation of Mark Andrews and his long-time buddy Bob Catinazzo, assisted by their small, but dedicated work crew of close friends and relatives – isn’t happening this year.
I remember doing an interview with Mark and Bob about this time back in 2019, the year before the outbreak of COVID-19. That was the ninth consecutive year that the MEG Building basement in Cliftondale had been converted into the town’s official haunted house. Andrews, who began dabbling in the Halloween hobby of haunted houses out of the basement of his own home 20 years ago – had been perfecting it every year until the crowds got too big and he and his friends moved into the old Cliftondale Schoolhouse, which is owned by the Town of Saugus and leased to The MEG Foundation. And then along came COVID-19 in March of 2020, and it continued to make our lives miserable even through last year. So, Saugus’s scary little Haunted House was out of commission.
Andrews, a member of the Saugus High School Class of 1987, attended classes in the old schoolhouse, in grades one through four. He told me in a past interview that he believed the building may be inhabited by friendly spirits. Sometimes while alone in the building, he said, he can hear the sounds of people walking when there is nobody else around.
Well, it was great Halloween entertainment while it lasted.
But Andrews’ project was a much bigger asset to the community than as a seasonal attraction for people who love a frightening moment for the fun of it. All those cover charges collected at the Haunted House went to local charities or local people who needed some help. In the past, money raised from the Haunted House has been donated to Saugus We Care, Saugus Anti Drugs, Saugus Youth and Recreation, the Friends of Saugus Parks and Miles For Miracles, a charity for Boston Children’s Hospital. The MEG Foundation and the Saugus High School Drama program were the benefactors of the fund-raising efforts by Andrews, Catinazzo and friends during their final year in the basement. The kids in the drama club also got to practice their craft by acting out some of the scary roles.
Also noteworthy: Andrews spent hundreds if not thousands of dollars out of his own pocket over the years in an effort to make the Haunted House of Saugus as good as it was. Hats off to Andrews, Catinazzo and friends for a scary project that also led to the betterment of Saugus.
Town-Wide Fall Street Sweeping
Town Manager Scott C. Crabtree and the Department of Public Works announced the Town’s Annual Fall Street Sweeping Program, which began on Oct. 11. Sweepers started in the area of north Saugus (Precincts 5 and 7) and are working their way across town, working from 7 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.
The town asks that residents keep vehicles off the street when sweepers are in the area. Locals may assist the Department of Public Works by sweeping their driveways or sidewalks into the gutter area prior to the program’s start. But they should not sweep driveways and/or sidewalks once the sweepers have swept.
Residents should keep in mind that street sweepers are unable to collect stones, branches, leaves or other foreign objects. In addition, residents are asked to be mindful that sweepers cannot pick up large piles of sand.
Please contact the Department of Public Works at 781-231-4143 with any questions.
Saugus Lions Club fundraiser Oct. 22
The Saugus Lions Club is hosting a Halloween dinner/dance on Saturday, Oct. 22 at 7 p.m. at the Saugus Knights of Columbus (57 Appleton St.). There will be a full buffet, cash bar, DJ, raffles and door prizes. Costumes are optional but there will be a prize for best costume.
Tickets are $50 with proceeds supporting the Lions’ efforts in funding eye research. For more information or to purchase tickets, email email@example.com or call 781-640-9176.
A “Shout-Out” to Billy B.
Just when I was preparing to compose a few shout-outs to publicly recognize good Saugonians for this week’s edition, Ruth Berg – the stylish hat lady with the great smile and personality to match – emailed me with this one:
“Sound off to Billy Boomhower (Purple Heart Recipient, Trustee and lifetime member of Saugus VFW Post 2346) for going the extra mile. Billy hosted a group of Saugus Vietnam veterans to lunch at the VFW who returned from the ‘Roll to Washington, 2022’ trip. Flowers were presented by the Saugus Garden Club.”
I’ll add my own “Shout-Out” anyway: a bouquet of “shout-outs” for Ruth Berg, the feisty and friendly 90-year-old Saugonian who continues to remain very active in her community despite her age. She’s a bundle of energy and model for the young Saugonians and future of the town.
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 (firstname.lastname@example.org) 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.
We have a winner!
Congratulations to Sue Fleming for making the right identification in last week’s “Guess Who Got Sketched” contest. Sue is one of several readers answering correctly. But she was the only one to have her name picked in a drawing from the green Boston Red Sox cap.
Here’s the correct answer, offered by the person who goes by the name of The Sketch Artist:
“Environmental balance comes to the forefront as I’m sitting by a pond, sipping fresh pressed cider and sharing warm apple donuts surrounded by nature’s beauty & wild animal habitats.
“Ann Devlin comes to mind and the many ways she assists in maintaining Nature’s assurance. Ann Devlin is Last Week’s sketch! Ann is our Saugus Action Volunteer Environmental (SAVE) President. SAVE supports wildlife, water bodies, open spaces and natural resources. SAVE is a nonprofit organization and was incorporated in 1973.
“Recently on October 1, SAVE sponsored three events at the Breakheart Fall Family Festival ranging from wildlife to a recycled “It’s New to You” swap table!
“As President Ann has public awareness speaking duties, SAVE facebook, annual dinner function and an environmental scholarship and Board to oversee.
“SAVE puts out articles such as what’s recyclable, the criteria for an item to be recyclable and awareness on phone rechargeable batteries and how they wreak havoc at recycling facilities causing fires etc.; public awareness that Staples offers tech recycling everyday to keep those tech items out of incinerators. (Call first)
“Ann’s dynamic when she teaches seminars, she involves her audience and includes visual and tactile examples and often concludes with a Q & A with the audience. Sometimes someone asks a question that makes one scratch their head and think, what the? … Ann still finds a way to use that as a constructive applicable teaching moment and relate it to the Subject at hand; she thinks on her feet! Ann and her husband raised four Saugus High Graduates!
“Saugus 2014 Woman of the Year has many accomplishments too numerous to list here; as she has been the topic in many papers with SAVE’s outreaches and Penny Pines program and Tree Committee and Earth Day!
“Ann’s voice ripples through many waters and natural environments, the whisper of protection.
“Thank you Ann for all you do and I’m sure if the birds and wildlife could speak you’d get a warm thunderous applause and many high five paws for a shout out!
“The Sketch Artist”
A different look at MCAS scores
After spending five hours of one day last week scanning the MCAS pages as it relates to Saugus Public Schools (usually I spend eight hours in my own analysis), I put the question to the School Committee members and Saugus Public Schools Superintendent Erin McMahon on the relevance of all those numbers. Only one of the School Committee members responded. Committee Chair Vincent Serino gave a concise overview comment. Several committee members told me they didn’t feel comfortable making a comment because they didn’t fully understand the meaning of all of those numbers, which is understandable.
The fact is most of our readers can’t make heads or tails of MCAS scores. That’s why reporters like myself spend hours and hours looking at those numbers.
When I worked at The Eagle Tribune newspaper in North Andover, I often drew the assignment nobody wanted. The consolation was, I had eight hours before the deadline to study the numbers and then do a few interviews once I understood the numbers.
For last week’s front-page story, I was fortunate enough to get a quick response from Superintendent McMahon’s office, along with some written analysis to prepare me for a 15-minute interview. By the time the interview came, I understood the numbers I was reading. And it looked like COVID-19 had taken a toll on most school districts throughout the state, especially in the language arts. And overall, Saugus mirrored what was going on in the state and did even worse in most categories, which is understandable. The district is among the low-scoring school districts in the state – and after this year’s MCAS results, Saugus still ranks in the bottom quarter of schools.
But after talking to the superintendent, I looked at the numbers a little differently. She actually presented an interesting perspective on MCAS analytics that few people can comprehend.
I told the superintendent at the outset that I was interested in the best way I could present the MCAS numbers in a simplified format so the average reader could understand. And I was skeptical about how she would be positive and proud about the MCAS results.
She asked me if I ever watched the movie “Moneyball.” She said it was one of her favorite movies. I enjoyed the popular 2011 movie, too. The film, starring actor Brad Pitt as Oakland A’s manager Billy Beane, is based on a true story that essentially revolutionized the way baseball executives with tight budget – and some with big bucks – construct winning baseball teams economically: taking flawed, but talented, average players and using the percentages of certain situations to maximize their strengths.
Supt. McMahon used “Moneyball” as an analogy to make her case about MCAS scores as they relate to Saugus Public Schools. And she used the obscure and seldom-used data about growth to make her point that although the percentage of Saugus students meeting or exceeding expectations had declined, there was substantial growth to report among the nonperforming students.
These latest MCAS scores sum up the superintendent’s first year of a five-year plan to move Saugus Public Schools from the bottom 10 percent to the top 10 percent in the state. Instead of 10 percent, it looks like the academically challenged Middle and High Schools have moved up into the 20 percent area. So, by trying to understand the superintendent’s argument, it sure does look like improvement in the lower performing students.
Because COVID-19 contributed to a gap in the MCAS scores, it’s hard to compare this year’s scores with the more recent ones. The fair thing to do would be to use this as a starting point and measure it against the MCAS scores released next year at this time.
Saugus American Legion Post 210 is hosting its popular breakfasts from 8 – 9 a.m. on Fridays. The price is $8 for those who are looking for a delicious meal at Legion Hall. Bon appétit!
A chance to vote early
The Town Clerk’s Office has posted the early voting hours for the Nov. 8 general election on the town website.
The First Week of Early Voting
Saturday, October 22 – 9 am to 3 p.m.
Monday, October 24 – 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Tuesday, October 25 – 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Wednesday, October 26 – 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Thursday, October 27 – 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Friday, October 28 – 9 a.m. to 11 a.m.
The Second Week of Early Voting
Saturday, October 29 – 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. (last day to register to vote)
Monday, October 31 – 8:30 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Tuesday, November 1 – 8:15 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Wednesday, November 2 – 8:15 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Thursday, November 3 – 8:15 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Friday, November 4 – 8:15 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
Comedy at The Kowloon
The Kowloon Restaurant brings back comedy starting today (Friday, Oct. 14 with Mark Riley and next Friday (Oct. 21) with Jimmy Dunn. Tickets are $20 and show time is 8 p.m. at the Kowloon Restaurant on Route 1 North in Saugus. For tickets, call the Kowloon Restaurant at 781-233-0077.
Here’s a little background about the comedians: Mark Riley was born and raised in Boston and coauthored the movie script “Penalty Box” based on his life in pro hockey. He is currently publishing his first book and has many television appearances, including NESN and Dirty Water TV. And to further impress you, he was a finalist in the 2016 Boston Comedy Festival.
Jimmy Dunn is an actor and stand-up comedian from Boston who recently co-starred on the CBS comedy “The McCarthys” as Sean McCarthy. He got his start in the comedy world telling jokes at a bar in Gloucester, Mass., where he was paid in beer and fried clams.
If you’ve got any kind of funny bone, you might check out one or both of these October performances.
Fall Curbside Leaf Collection Dates
The Town of Saugus announced that fall curbside leaf collection will take place during the weeks of Oct 24–28, Nov. 14–18 and Nov. 28–Dec. 2. Residents may dispose of leaves curbside on their regularly scheduled collection day. Leaves should be left outside by 7 a.m. on the appropriate days.
Please ensure that leaf containers are physically separated from trash and recycling. Paper leaf bags are the preferred method of leaf disposal. If you are using barrels, they must be clearly marked with yard waste stickers. Barrel covers must remain removed so that the leaves are visible. Plastic bags, cardboard boxes, branches and brush will not be accepted.
Please note that separate trucks collect the rubbish, recycling and leaves, so the leaves may be collected at a different time of day. “Missed pick-ups” will not be conducted.
Household Hazardous Waste Collection
Residents are invited to dispose of their household hazardous waste in an environmentally responsible manner during a collection event on Saturday, Oct. 29, from 9 a.m. to noon. This event will be held at the Belmonte Upper Elementary School located at 25 Dow St. This year will be a contactless event; there will be no preregistration. Residents must stay in their vehicles and hold up a driver’s license, and all materials must be placed in the trunk or rear of the vehicle.
The rain-or-shine event will allow residents to dispose of a series of household waste products, including rubber cement, airplane glue, fiberglass resins, aerosol cans, photo chemicals, furniture polish, floor and metal polish, oven cleaner, drain and toilet cleaner, spot remover, rug and upholstery cleaner, hobby and artist supplies, photography chemicals, turpentine and chemistry sets. The following garage supplies will also be accepted: fuel, gasoline, kerosene, engine degreaser, brake fluid, carburetor cleaner, transmission fluid, car wax, polishes, driveway sealer, car batteries, antifreeze, cesspool cleaners, roofing tar, swimming pool chemicals, motor oil and car batteries. Accepted workbench waste includes oil-based paints, stains, varnishes, wood preservatives, paint strippers or thinners, solvent adhesives and lighter fluid. Residents may also bring the following yard waste: weed killer, chemical fertilizers, flea control products, moth balls, poisons, insecticides, herbicides, pesticides and fungicides.
Residents are urged to take caution when transporting household hazardous materials. Locals may do so by keeping the materials in their original containers, tightening caps and lids, sorting and packing products separately and packing containers in sturdy upright boxes padded with newspaper. Please remember never to mix chemicals or to smoke while handling hazardous materials.
The hazardous household waste collection will not accept commercial waste. Residents will be limited to two carloads, the equivalent of 50 pounds or 50 gallons, of hazardous waste. The following items will not be accepted: empty containers or trash, latex paint, commercial or industrial waste, radioactive waste, smoke detectors, infectious and biological wastes, ammunition, fireworks, explosives, fire extinguishers or syringes. TVs, computers and car tires may be recycled at the drop-off site located at 515 Main St. on Wednesdays and Saturdays from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m.
The Town of Saugus would like to thank everyone for their cooperation. Please contact Jeannie Meredith at 781-231-4111 with any questions.
What’s happening at the Saugus Public Library
For schoolchildren looking for interesting projects and programs to participate in this fall, there’s plenty to do at the Saugus Public Library.
Just Sew! Saugonians are welcome to join a monthly sewing class for adults that will be held the third Monday of each month from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. in the Community Room of Saugus Public Library. The next meeting is Monday, Oct. 17. The class will cover basic topics like sewing buttons, hemming clothing and mending torn fabric and will move on to more advanced topics in the coming weeks. This class is free. (See sauguspubliclibrary.org)
A neat, new teen club: The Manga & Anime Club began recently. And, from all accounts, it’s a lot of fun for kids in Grades 6 and up. So, if you are curious, check out the Teen Room. Chat with friends! Make crafts! Try Japanese snacks! Club meetings will continue on Saturdays, through May, from 10-11 a.m. They will be held on Nov. 12, Dec. 10, Jan. 7, Feb. 4, March 4, April 1 and May 13. Please sign up in advance; call 781-231-4168 or stop by the Reference Desk. https://www.sauguspubliclibrary.org/new-manga-anime-club…/ Saugus Public Library, 295 Central St., Saugus, Mass.
Youth Cross Country
Hey, parents! If you have any children who could use an opportunity to get into a healthier lifestyle – which might, in turn – lead to better academic scores, consider getting them to sign up for Youth Cross Country. Here’s a simple outline of what this entails.
Who: any Saugus child in grades 1 through 5.
When: Tuesdays and Thursdays, 3:45 to 4:45 p.m. at the Belmonte Track; Saturdays, 10 to 11:30 a.m. at the Visitor Center at Breakheart Reservation.
Dates: The program will last through Nov. 15.
Why: to learn to enjoy Cross Country Running and make new friends.
Cost: $100 for new runners; $50 for returning runners.
This weekly program will be guided by Coach Steve Boudreau and Coach Chris Tarantino. Children will learn good stretching techniques and the basics of exercise and cross-country running. Best of all, this will be a great way to make new friends.
Participants need to wear a good pair of sneakers, dress in comfortable running clothes and bring a water bottle. For more details, contact Coach T (Not Mr. T.) at 781-854-6778.
Sounds like a worthwhile and affordable fitness program with lots of upside for grade school kids.
Healthy Students-Healthy Saugus
(Editor’s Note: The following info is from an announcement submitted by Julie Cicolini, a member of the Board of Directors for Healthy Students-Healthy Saugus.)
Who we are: Healthy Students-Healthy Saugus (HS2) is a nonprofit group of volunteers who are helping to offset food insecurity in households. HS2 provides students/families who enroll in the program a supply of nutritious food for when school lunches and breakfasts are unavailable to them on weekends.
How HS2 can help you: HS2 bags are distributed at Saugus Public schools on Fridays to take home. Bags include such items as peanut butter, canned meals/soups/tuna/vegetables, pasta, fruit cups, cereal, oatmeal, goldfish, pretzels and granola bars. All food is provided to children free of charge. It is our hope these resources will support the health, behavior and achievement of every student who participates. To sign up go here to complete online form: https://forms.gle/gmMGguycSHBdziuE9
Want to partner with us: We would love to partner with organizations, sports teams, youth groups, PTO’s, businesses and individuals to assist in feeding students of Saugus. To learn more about how you can partner with us, visit the Healthy Students-Healthy Saugus Facebook page or email us at HS2Saugus@gmail.com
HS2 relies on donations to create take home bags with a weekend full of meals. Checks can also be sent directly to: Salem Five c/o Healthy Students-Healthy Saugus, 855-5 Broadway, Saugus, MA 01906. Online donations can also be made at https://givebutter.com/HealthySaugus
Saugus seeks student poll workers
Town Clerk Ellen Schena’s Office is looking for student election workers. It is a great way for them to learn how their government functions and how important it is to vote. Sixteen-year-old students are eligible to work a half day (six to eight hours); 17-18-year-old students may work a full day (eight to 12 hours). All students can receive community service, which is imperative to them in order to satisfy their High School requirement mandated for graduation, or they can be paid for their hours worked. In addition, the Town Clerk’s Office will gladly write letters of recommendation for the National Honor Society, Colleges, etc.
Interested students can stop by Town Hall or contact the Town Clerk’s Office to apply for work. Ask for Andrew DePatto, the Saugus Election Coordinator. He can be reached at 781-231-4102.
Food pantry seeks volunteers
Here’s a message from Pastor Joe Hoyle of the Cliftondale Congregational Church about a collaborative community commitment to help needy Saugus residents:
“The Saugus United Parish Food Pantry is a partnership between the churches in Saugus to ensure that no one in our community faces food insecurity.
“With faithful donations and volunteers, we have been able to give out thousands of meals to our neighbors in need throughout the years. The Food Pantry is open every Friday from 9:30am-11am, distributing pre-packaged groceries (including meat and produce) at 50 Essex St.
“We are always in need of volunteers. If you would like to volunteer or donate, please contact Pastor Joe Hoyle, Executive Director at email@example.com or 781-233-2663.”
Looking for book donations
The New Friends of the Saugus Public Library are asking for donations of gently used adult hardcover and softcover fiction for the ongoing book sale in the Community Room. They would also appreciate donations of gently used children’s books. Please limit donations at this time to only fiction and children’s books; they do not have storage space for other genres or media. Please… clean and newer books only – no tattered pages, bad odors, stains or dirty covers!
Books may be dropped off at the Main Circulation Desk during business hours. Please do not place donations in the outdoor book drops.
Let’s hear it!
Got an idea, passing thought or gripe you would like to share with The Saugus Advocate? I’m always interested in your feedback. It’s been six and a half years since I began work at The Saugus Advocate. I’m always interested in hearing readers’ suggestions for possible stories or good candidates for “The Advocate Asks” interview of the week. Feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Do you have some interesting views on an issue that you want to express to the community? Submit your idea. If I like it, we can meet for a 15- to 20-minute interview over a hot drink at a local coffee shop. And I’ll buy the coffee or tea. Or, if you prefer to continue practicing social distancing and be interviewed from the safety of your home on the phone or via email, I will provide that option to you as the nation recovers from the Coronavirus crisis.
If it’s a nice day, my preferred site for a coffee and interview would be the picnic area of the Saugus Iron Works National Historic Site.
CONTEST SKETCH OF THE WEEK
GUESS WHO GOT SKETCHED! If you know the right answer, you might win the contest. In this week’s edition, we continue our weekly feature where a local artist sketches people, places and things in Saugus. Got an idea who was sketched this week? If you do, please email me at email@example.com or leave a phone message at 978-683-7773. Anyone who between now and Tuesday at noon identifies the Saugonian sketched in this week’s paper qualifies to have their name put in a green Boston Red Sox hat with a chance to be selected as the winner of a $10 gift certificate, compliments of Hammersmith Family Restaurant (330 Central St. in Saugus). But you have to enter to win! Look for the winner and identification in next week’s “The Sounds of Saugus.” Please leave your mailing address in case you are a winner. (Courtesy illustration to The Saugus Advocate by a Saugonian who goes by the name of “The Sketch Artist”)