Hold onto your masks
Saugus, like the rest of Massachusetts, seems to be trending in the right direction, as far as COVID-19 is concerned. It’s great news that the town this week joined dozens of other Massachusetts communities in lifting their facemask mandates for indoors. And the same thing will happen in the Schools, with the state Department of Elementary and Secondary Education set to roll back its masked mandate on Feb. 28.
But let’s be prudent and remain patient as life seems to be getting back to normal. Don’t throw away your masks and PPE just yet. Let’s see a continued drop in the positive COVID-19 cases to the point where things are really back to normal and nobody is dying.
I know that at least through the transition weeks, I’m going to be still packing face masks whenever I head into buildings where I suspect there might be a crowd. I’m 69 and I don’t need to be getting COVID-19 at my age. And I know a lot of seniors feel the same way. And I will continue to post the COVID-19 Update in the paper until the town manager stops reporting confirmed cases and the numbers cease to exist.
Town residents should be patient with those business and restaurant owners who still insist on people wearing masks when they enter their establishments. It is still their right to turn away customers who don’t respect their rules.
It appears the worst is over and we’re headed in the right direction. But we should remain cautiously optimistic until we’re really back to near-normalcy, though it’s doubtful we’ll ever be fully back to the way things were before March of 2020.
Good luck and stay safe, Saugus.
We have a winner!
Congratulations to Linda Pogson for making the right identification in last week’s “Guess Who got Sketched!” Contest. Pogson was one of several readers answering correctly, and the one who had their name selected 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:
“Last week’s paper was full of our Firefighter heroes, and the timing of a firefighter’s sketch who was featured was fun to see! Last week’s 2014 Medal of Valor sketch answer was a breeze, like a test with an open book.
“But it’s the ones who enter who win! (it’s a joy to have winners for the Red Sox green hat drawing to give our Sponsor’s prizes to!) It was interesting reading about this Hero, see the Feb. 4th Cover story of Saugus Advocate paper/online continued on page 4 (his picture on pg. 3) & Oct. 4th 2018 Issue; I would encourage you to read more:
“Our Captain was front and center at the Fire Station putting on various Fire safety & Awareness Programs for Adults and children. He made the programs fun to attend so families would walk away benefitting from all they learned.
“In December 2011 he dove into the Saugus River’s icy waters to rescue a woman from her trapped submerged car.
“The featured sketch is of our 30 years on duty for Saugus Firefighter Captain James Hughes.
“Captain James Hughes retired last month after serving a total of 35 years in Firefighter Services.
“Our hats off to you Captain James Hughes! Fire Chief Michael C. Newbury stated in Saugus Advocate paper Feb.4th Cover story: ‘You don’t just end up being a Lieutenant and Captain’
“Wishing you a retirement surrounded by loving family & attaining dreams of fruition!
“*You may pass the torch forward but you still carry a megawatt brilliance!
“Thank you for your service.
“The Sketch Artist”
Multiple “Shout-Outs” again!
We received two nominations from readers this week for people deserving of “Shout-Outs.” Three from Jeannie Meredith:
“I have three Shout Outs:
“The first ‘Shout Out’ is for Captain James Hughes. We thank you for your 35 years as a firefighter. Saugus is sorry to see you go. Have fun and enjoy your retirement, it is well deserved!
“The second ‘Shout Out’ is for firefighter Billy Cross on his promotion to Captain within the Saugus Fire Department. Billy is probably one of the most popular and well known firefighters in Saugus and respected by all. Congratulations and best of luck Billy you earned it!!
“The third ‘Shout Out’ goes to firefighter Donald ‘DJ’ Blandini on his promotion to Lieutenant within the Saugus Fire Department. He’s a great guy and has worked hard and has earned this promotion. Congratulations and the best of luck DJ!!”
A special “shout out” from the Sketch Artist:
“BIG thankyou & Shout Out to J & M Italian American Cuisine for their Sponsorship of the past 4-weeks of $10.00 gift certificates to the winners of the ‘Guess Who got sketched Contest’
“Thank you! Our contest winners will sure be in for a BIG treat; your food is delicious!) Love your chicken parm sub!) Yours Truly,
“The Sketch Artist”
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.
Town Republicans hold Convention Caucus next week
This just in from James J. Harrington, Chairman, Saugus Republican Town Committee:
The Saugus Republican Town Committee will hold a meeting and a caucus to elect delegates to the Republican State Convention. This will be held on Thursday, Feb. 17 at the M.E.G. Building, 58 Essex Street, Saugus at 7 p.m.
Committee offices of Chairman, Vice Chairman, Treasurer and Secretary will be voted upon during the meeting. Republicans, who are registered Republicans as of December 31, 2021, and reside in Saugus, are eligible to join the Committee, be eligible to serve as Committee officers and vote for Committee officers.
This caucus will elect 28 delegates from Saugus to the Republican State Convention, which will be held on Saturday, May 21, 2022, in Worcester, MA. Republicans who are registered Republicans as of December 31, 2021, and reside in Saugus are eligible to be elected as delegates. Attendance at this caucus meeting is not required; however, persons wishing to be elected as delegates must be nominated before or during this caucus.
In the event of bad weather, this meeting and caucus will take place on Saturday, Feb. 19 – location and time to be determined.
For any further information or to have any questions you may have answered, please email me at: SunocoJim@gmail.com or you may message me on Facebook, either on the Saugus Republican Town Committee page or my private Facebook page: Jim Harrington.
Tonal Chaos competes on Sunday
Last Friday’s winter weather, which created treacherous road conditions, led to a cancellation of a preview performance by Tonal Chaos at the MEG Building that night. But the Saugus High School a cappella group (formerly known as “The Sachimes”) plans to reschedule in what would amount to an encore presentation. Stay tuned for details.
Meanwhile, if you have some time on Sunday (Feb. 13) and want to see and hear something special, plan on watching Tonal Chaos compete in the International Championship of High School A Cappella (ICHSA). Tickets to the ICHSA performance – set for 3 p.m. – can be purchased: Venue: Galvin Middle School, 525 Main St., Wakefield; phone: 781-246-6410; website: http://wakefieldpublicschools.org/WPS/galvin/.
Goodbye, Tom, finally!
As a longtime New England Patriots season ticket holder (since 1993), I, for one, am happy to finally see the retirement of the GOAT – quarterback great Tom Brady from the NFL.
If another comeback is planned, hope it’s just for one day so Brady can come back to Foxboro and retire as a Patriot. It still hurts that he left the Pats to play his last two seasons in Tampa Bay, where he led the Buccaneers to a Super Bowl title last season. I have mixed emotions about that. But I took some joy in seeing him add his seventh championship ring to his collection of awards and honors.
Hopefully, the Patriots front office lines up a special day for next season to bring Brady back for a one-day contract at Gillette Stadium. Hey, Bob Kraft, why not treat New England fans to a special day? And don’t charge admission.
As a long-time season ticket holder, I have a personal investment here. I had the pleasure of watching every regular season and playoff home game Brady got to play in his illustrious Patriots career under the legendary Pats Coach Bill Belichick.
He didn’t play much in his rookie season. But in his second season, he became the starter after star quarterback Drew Bledsoe suffered a life-threatening injury that knocked him out of the lineup for most of that season. Brady did such a great job of managing the game in helping to lead the Pats into the playoffs that Bledsoe never got his starting job back.
The rest is some pretty rich sports history that few football fans around the country have ever experienced. Brady went on to help lead the Patriots to a Super Bowl title after taking over Bledsoe’s job. And during his 19 years as a starter, the team went 141-25 in Foxboro and posted a 20-4 home playoff record. For 17 seasons, the Patriots won their division in the AFC East, which meant that they hosted at least one playoff game for their fans. Seven times they hosted the AFC Championship Game, winning six of them for a trip to the Super Bowl.
To put things into context, Pats fans got to see 24 home playoff games during Brady’s 29 years as a starter. During that time, the New York Jets and the Miami Dolphins each hosted a playoff game. And the Buffalo Bills fans never got to see one.
During those glorious years when Brady was the starting quarterback, New England won 85 percent of its home games – playoffs and regular season. And the two seasons that the Patriots didn’t go to the playoffs, they tied for the division title, but lost on the tie-breakers. One of those seasons, the Patriots went 11-5 after Brady suffered a season-ending injury in the home opener.
My favorite Brady moment has got to be the Pats pulling out a stunning come-from-behind victory over Oakland in the infamous “Tuck” Game, where Brady appeared to fumble the ball late in the game. But the referees ruled it an incomplete pass after citing an obscure rule. So the Patriots drive survived with Adam Vinatieri kicking the game-tying field goal through a blinding snowstorm. From where my brother Wayne and I sat on our aluminum bench, it didn’t look like the kick had the altitude to reach the goal post. But it did. And the Patriots won the coin toss to begin overtime and went down the field with Adam Vinatieri kicking the game-winning field goal. And then a Patriot did snow angels on the cold Foxboro Stadium turf.
It was 20 years ago last month that Brady and the Pats won the game which built the foundation of great things to come for New England sports fans throughout the region.
Brady didn’t do it all by himself, of course. Football is a team sport. There were a few famous and not so famous Pats who contributed to the so-called Patriots Dynasty. But he was the greatest Patriot who ever played and the only involved in those 19 straight winning football seasons that ended in 17 trips to the playoffs, nine trips to the Super Bowl and six Super Bowl Titles.
So, eat your hearts out, NFL fans outside of New England. It was a great run, with Tom Brady leading the way.
SAVE announces 2022 Environmental Scholarship
Saugus Action Volunteers for the Environment (SAVE) is very pleased to announce that it is offering a $1,000 Environmental Scholarship to Saugus Residents of the Graduating Class of 2022. This is a scholarship for students who will be attending a two/four-year college or other educational institution and pursuing a degree in an area that would positively impact the environment.
Applicants can download the SAVE 2022 Environmental Scholarship Application Form found at www.saugusSAVE.org. Together with the completed application form, please include a separate sheet (identified with your initials only) that provides a summary of any of your activities relating to the environment and describe how you feel your career choice will positively impact the environment.
Please mail your application (postmarked by April 22, 2022) to: SAVE, P.O. Box 908, Saugus, MA 01906 or email your application (no later than midnight on April 22, 2022) to: SAVE Co-President Ann Devlin at email@example.com. Again, the deadline to submit your application is April 22, 2022.
A Rabies Vaccination Clinic in May
Town Clerk Ellen Schena wants cat and dog owners to know about an upcoming rabies vaccination clinic that is set for Wednesday, May 4 from 4 to 6 p.m. This is for cats and dogs only. This will take place at the Animal Shelter at the rear of the DPW Building (515 Rear Main St. in Saugus). The vaccination costs $10 and can be paid by cash or check only.
State Law requires all dog owners to license their dogs.
Food pantry seeking driver volunteers
The Saugus United Parish Food Pantry seeks volunteers to make food and bread pickups on Thursdays and Fridays from 7:30 to 9 a.m. Anyone who has the time and interest to help out should contact Jeff Hirtle at 781-922-0661. The food pantry operates out of the basement at Cliftondale Congregational Church at 50 Essex St. in Saugus.
Friday morning Legion Hall breakfasts are back!
Here’s some great news for people who enjoy their Friday morning breakfasts at the Saugus American Legion Cpl Scott J. Procopio Post 210. Legion Hall, which is located at 44 Taylor St., this week planned to resume its Friday breakfasts starting today (Feb. 11) and will continue through the last Friday in May of 2022. The buffet breakfast is served at 8:00 a.m. for a donation of $7.
Concerns about COVID-19 had led to a temporary shutdown of the popular Friday morning breakfasts. But Debra Dion Faust, Building Manager of American Legion Post 210, wants all veterans, regulars and newcomers to know that the breakfasts are finally back.
Bon appétit! And good luck to the Kitchen Crew.
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.
Live Bingo at the Kowloon
The Kowloon Restaurant will continue with Bingo every Wednesday through March 30 from 7 to 9 p.m. in the Hong Kong Lounge. Prizes will be given away each week with a grand prize set at the finale. A full Chinese gourmet spread is available during bingo – featuring pu pu platters, egg rolls, crab Rangoons, Saugus Wings, General Gau’s chicken, lobster sauce, fried scallops, lo mein, moo shu pork, salt and pepper calamari and sushi – along with a full bar menu, including the signature mai tais.
Call the Kowloon Restaurant at 781-233-0077 to reserve your table.
Town posts Compost Site Winter Schedule
The Town of Saugus has announced that the community’s compost site and recycling center will be open to residents the third Saturday of the month during the winter months. The site will be open on Feb. 19 and March 19 from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. The site is located behind the Department of Public Works at 515 Main St.
Yard waste must be disposed of in brown compost bags or open containers. The Town will accept grass clippings, leaves, and brush. As in years past, no branches or limbs larger than three inches in diameter are permitted.
At this time residents will not need a compost site sticker to access the site. The Town asks all residents to please wear a mask and maintain and respect social distancing from others while visiting the site.
Residents may call Lorna Cerbone at the Solid Waste and Recycling Department at 781-231-4036 with questions or for more information.
Want to be a Knight?
The Knights of Columbus is looking for new members to join. If you are interested in becoming a member of this local organization, please call 781-233-9858.
Healthy Students-Healthy Saugus program
(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 school on Fridays to take home. Bags include such items as peanut butter, jelly, a loaf of bread, canned meals/soups/tuna/vegetables, pasta/sauce, fruit cups, cereal, oatmeal, goldfish, pretzels and granola bars. To sign up go here to complete online form: https://forms.gle/gmMGguycSHBdziuE9.
Want to partner with us: HS2 relies on donations to create take-home bags for a weekend full of meals. 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. We would love to partner with organizations, youth groups, PTOs, 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.
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
Food Pantry still open
The Saugus United Parish Food Pantry continues to remain open on Fridays between 9:30 a.m. and 11:00 a.m. despite concerns over the Coronavirus. They have made adjustments to protect their core of volunteers and the needy people who receive the food. For the protection of volunteers & clients, and to limit personal contact and crowding/gathering, the food pantry has been distributing pre-bagged groceries. Even though clients may receive items they don’t want or need, food pantry organizers feel this is the best course of action to mitigate the potential spread of COVID-19. Those in need, even for short-term or one-time assistance, are encouraged to come.
The food pantry is located in the basement of Cliftondale Congregational Church at 50 Essex St. in Saugus.
Clarifying some veterans issues
Jay Pinette, the Veterans Services Officer for the Town of Saugus, wanted to pass along a few words to promote a better understanding of how his office works:
“Veterans Service Officers (VSOs) are not VA employees and do not have direct access to VA systems or information,” Jay wrote in an email to us.
“Local VSOs are employees of their respective cities and towns. VSOs are generally able to assist veterans and eligible dependents with VA-related claims and benefits activities.
“One of the primary duties of the VSOs is to administer a program for veterans and eligible dependents that is referred to as ‘Chapter 115’. Under Chapter 115 of Massachusetts General Laws (M.G.L. CH. 115), the Commonwealth provides a uniform program of financial assistance for low income veterans and their dependents. Qualified veterans and their dependents who meet the income and asset eligibility criteria may receive monthly financial benefits that are intended to assist the veteran with housing and living expenses.
“If local Veterans wish to enroll in VA healthcare and/or obtain a VA ID card, representatives from the VA Bedford will be on-site at the Lynn VA Clinic twice a month. The on-site enrollment will be held on the 1 st and 3 rd Tuesday of each month from 9:00 am to 3:00 pm. Appointments are advised and the dates and times are subject to change. The Lynn VA Clinic is located at 225 Boston Street, Suite 107. For more information or to schedule an appointment for enrollment, call 781-687-3348 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
“The Veterans Services Offices of Saugus and other surrounding communities have partnered with the Greater Boston Food Bank to hold monthly mobile food markets for veterans. With the closure of the Saugus Senior Center during the pandemic, the food market was moved to Melrose. We have now moved the food market back to the Saugus Senior Center. The veterans mobile food market is held on the third Wednesday of each month. Veterans and eligible dependents must sign up with the Saugus Veterans Service Office to determine eligibility. VSO Jay Pinette can be reached at 781-231-4010 or at email@example.com. Or on the first floor of Saugus Town Hall at 298 Central Street, Saugus MA 01906.”
A smoke alarm alert for seniors
The state Fire Marshal’s Office has launched a new public service announcement campaign that is geared toward encouraging smoke alarm awareness among senior citizens – the people who are at greater risk of dying in a fire. And this should be of particular interest to Saugus residents who may recall the house fire that killed two elderly people on Richard Street last July. Fire investigators found no evidence of smoke alarms or carbon monoxide alarms in the home.
The “Dear Grandma / Querida Abuela” campaign began this month on television and radio stations in the Boston, Worcester and Springfield media markets. Recorded in both English and Spanish, it features a granddaughter writing a letter to her grandmother about all the things she looks forward to doing together, interspersed with messages about the importance of having working smoke alarms and replacing alarms after 10 years.
“In Massachusetts and nationwide, people over 65 have a disproportionately high risk of dying in a fire,” state Fire Marshal Peter J. Ostroskey said in a press release. “Everyone should have working smoke alarms in their homes, but we developed this PSA to reach older adults in particular because of the higher statistical risk they face. Installing smoke alarms on every floor of the home, checking them regularly, and replacing them after 10 years can dramatically reduce that risk.”
Nationwide, about 60 percent of fatal fires occur in homes without working smoke alarms. And in Massachusetts, people 65 and older comprise about 17 percent of the population but about 50 percent of last year’s fatal fire victims.
“Working smoke alarms are often the first line of defense against injury and tragedy in a fire,” Ostroskey said. “We invite our partners in the fire service, family members, caregivers, and social service providers to share these PSAs and emphasize the importance of working smoke alarms, especially among seniors.”
Last year when Louis Gallo, 78, and his sister Rosemarie Naples, 80, died in the three-alarm house fire on Richard Street, fire officials stressed that working smoke alarms in your home can double your chances of survival if a fire occurs. Home fire deaths have been cut in half since the early 1970s, when smoke alarms were first marketed, and about 40 percent of fire deaths in the United States take place in the four percent of homes without smoke alarms.
People should install smoke alarms throughout their home, test them monthly and replace the batteries when they change their clocks. If your smoke alarm is more than 10 years old, it should be replaced, according to fire officials.
The PSAs are available for distribution through the Department of Fire Services (DFS). They can be downloaded at the Department of Fire Services web page and can be linked or shared from the DFS YouTube channel. They complement the DFS Senior SAFE program, which provides grant funding for local fire departments to provide fire and life safety education for older adults.
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 close to six 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 and the temperature is 50 degrees or better, my preferred site for a coffee and interview would be the picnic area of the Saugus Iron Works.
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 loving Saugonian couple 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 Dunkin’ in the Food Court at Saugus’s Square One Mall. 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”)