Back to Zoom meetings
Just when we thought we had seen the last of Zoom public meetings, we’re seeing a sharp spike in the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases. As a result, a few local government bodies are going back to Zoom. Wednesday night’s (Jan. 12) Saugus School Committee Finance Subcommittee meeting was conducted via Zoom teleconferencing, as was last night’s (Thursday, Jan. 13) meeting where Saugus Public Schools Superintendent Erin McMahon’s presentation of the 2023 Fiscal Year (beginning July 1) budget was expected to be the main event.
“We had to move the budget presentation to Zoom to allow the meeting to happen, just given how many people are infected or very closely exposed to COVID,” School Committee Member Ryan Fisher explained in an interview Wednesday night. “For the vote on the budget next week, we just need to be able to make sure we have a quorum. The talking heads seem to think this surge is almost over. I hope they’re right.”
So, there’s a possibility that next Thursday night’s (Jan. 20) School Committee meeting could be an in-person meeting. Then again, if the committee has trouble fielding a quorum because several members are battling the virus – or the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases continues to soar – look for another Zoom meeting.
Prostate Cancer Awareness
The Saugus Senior Center will host a new community-based group that will focus on Prostate Cancer Awareness, beginning next Wednesday (Jan. 19) at 10 a.m. at 466 Central St. Refreshments will be provided. The goal of “Saugus Prostate Awareness” is to raise awareness of prostate cancer, to encourage men to seek screening, to share personal experiences and to provide suggestions for participants.
About one in eight men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer during his lifetime, according to the American Cancer Society. Prostate cancer is more likely to develop in older men and in non-Hispanic Black men. About six cases in 10 are diagnosed in men who are 65 or older, and it is rare in men under 40. The average age of men at diagnosis is about 66.
The 2020 U.S. Census has revealed that the median age of Saugus residents is 48 compared to the state average (39.4), which suggests that prostate cancer could be more commonplace in Saugus compared to the state.
The first meeting will feature three longtime community members who have experienced diagnosis and treatment. They will share what they have learned with participants to inform and encourage men and their partners about the importance of accurate screening and detection.
While this disease is specific to men, women are welcome and encouraged to attend. Please call the Senior Center at 781-231-4182 to indicate that you will be participating.
The Voke vote is set for Jan. 25
Saugus voters will get to provide a “yes” or “no” answer to the following question in a special ballot election to be held later this month:
“Do you approve of the vote of the Regional District School Committee of the Northeast Metropolitan Regional Vocational School District adopted on December 9, 2021, to authorize the borrowing of $317,422,620 to pay costs of designing, constructing, originally equipping and furnishing a new Northeast Metropolitan Regional Vocational School and related athletic facilities, located at 100 Hemlock Road in Wakefield, Massachusetts, including the payment of all costs incidental and related thereto …”
Saugus is just one of 12 communities in the Northeast Metro Tech Regional School District that will be voting in the Special Election on Jan. 25. Voting for all 10 town precincts will take place at the Saugus Senior Center (466 Central St.) from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., instead of being held at the usual polling locations. Postcards notifying voters of the upcoming election were mailed out recently. There will be no early voting for this election. However, residents can vote absentee. The last day to request an absentee ballot is Jan. 19.
Don’t trust voicemail translations
Our apologies go to Ruth Berg, who really did win the “Guess Who Got Sketched!” contest, despite our report that there were no winners last week. We initially reported that there were no winners. The translation of the Xfinity voice mail for Ruth listed the answer as “Cathy burke.” The real answer was Miss Ceiny DuPlessie. But after listening to my voice messages after the paper came out, I received one from Ruth that guessed the sketch subject correctly: “Miss Ceiny DuPlessie.”
This is how Xfinity translated Ruth’s call:
Hi it’s Ruth Berg and I’m answering these sketches on page 16 this week and it’s saying(?) me two places(?) and that’s my guess who it’s is Cathy burke(?) thank you.
Sure, it was garbled. But, at first glance, her answer was “Cathy burke.”
Had I listened to the phone message, it was clear that she was leaving a message that “Ruth Berg” had called. And I would have figured out that “it’s saying (?) me two places (?)” was really “Miss Ceiny DuPlessie.”
All I can say is “Sorry for the delayed congratulations, Ruth. You were the only reader guessing the identity of the sketch correctly.”
As for voice mail translations, you need to listen to them instead of relying on the translation that winds up in your email.
We have a winner!
Congratulations to Doug Pogson for making the right identification in last week’s “Guess Who got Sketched!” Contest and then being the one selected from among many readers whose names were entered into the green Boston Red Sox cap.
Here’s the correct answer, offered by the person who goes by the name of The Sketch Artist:
“The answer to last week’s sketch is a very humble man Mr. Gordon Shepard! Gordon is a lifelong Saugonian and a Saugus High Graduate of 1965.
“Gordon served as a letter carrier for 35 years with the Post Office. He was voted Saugus Man of the Year in 2014. He is a U.S. Army Veteran who served in the Vietnam war. Gordon spent many decades (still present) voluntarily straightening out Soldiers’ headstones and multitude of works for their resting in respectful place.
“He assisted with various projects restoring over 400 plus Veteran’s grave sites. These graves are maintained because of Gordon’s selfless care to these Soldiers. Many grave sites through the years had been overgrown with grass sinking into the earth where no names could be read.
“Gordon tirelessly started one by one tidying up each plot giving these Soldiers the respect and honor they deserve. It all started when he visited a fellow Vietnam buddy Richard “Dicky” Devine’s grave site who was a fellow Vietnam Pal. Mr. Richard Devine was killed in combat in 1969. Gordon saw how his headstone was sinking and grass overgrown. He restored his friend’s burial place and then moved on to the next plot beside his friend.
“This was the starting story of Gordon’s tireless efforts and work to give our Veterans a place of honor to rest after their life sacrifices to our homeland. Gordon is all hands on in these projects, working quietly behind the scenes, while deflecting all of the credit to others who may have helped in.
“But, he has received national recognition for his efforts to keep the memory of Civil War soldiers and sailors alive by instigating a massive restoration project at the site of the General Edward Winslow Hincks Post No. 95 Grand Army of the Republic Burial Plot. It’s a project he began in 2015 and spent thousands of hours over several years completing.
“The National Organization of the Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War honored Shepard with the organization’s 2019 Founder’s Award for his outstanding service in the memory of Union Civil War Soldiers. It was the group’s only award for the year.
“Gordon assisted and conferred with others from getting the right size and material cannonballs to taking out and putting up new marble posts, for grave markers to honor and identify the graves of the 25 soldiers and sailors – many who couldn’t be identified because the inscriptions on their gravestones were faded and unreadable. Gordon was honored with a Citation from the House of Representatives which recognized his Founder’s Award too! (A Founder’s Award is an Annual award that is the Highest Honor that can be presented to someone who is not even a member of the Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War. Gordon has been honored for his work and featured in several interviews such as ‘Civil War Talk.’)
“On ‘Gordie Shepard Day’ (unofficially named that for a man who gives so much of himself in various ways to honor and show respect to the Soldiers in those graves) people came out to see Gordon receive his Awards and Thank Gordon personally! A crowd of about 300 gathered in Riverside Cemetery that day to see this humble Saugonian honored.
“Gordon Shepard is the reason behind ALL the restoration projects at the Site of The General Edward Winslow Hincks Post NO.95 Grand Army Republic Spot.
“Thankyou and a Big Shout Out to Gordon Shepard for serving those who served us first. Your light of love shines so brightly like a beacon for our Soldiers and other and other military veterans laid to rest in the Cemetery!
“Thankyou for All you do!
“The Sketch Artist”
Several “Shout-Outs” to Saugonians
Some weeks, we receive nominations for folks to recognize in our “Shout-Outs.” Some weeks, we get a bunch. And it’s always great to receive multiple nominations from our readers for people who deserve to be recognized for doing something for the betterment of Saugus.
Making this week’s nominations are:
- Ruth Berg: “SHOUT OUT to Friends of Saugus information and news. (A private group on Facebook.) I have Covid-19 and Sunday, January 9, someone egged my front door. The outpouring of all kinds of help was overwhelming. I was amazed at how many people (and how many I don’t know) offered to clean the door, deliver groceries, do my errands, etc., etc.
“It is so heartwarming to know there are so many good people in our midst. In these times when we are all so fortunate to be survivors, a bad ‘egg’ is doing harm to innocent people. Our hope is that persons of that mindset would reverse their thinking and gift eggs to needy people.”
- Chris Riley: I’d like to offer a “Shoutout” this week to the Northeast Metro Tech Build Committee. This committee, which includes a number of Saugus residents, has held public forums each Wednesday now for each of the past 5 weeks, except for Christmas week, and has gone to great lengths to educate the public about the project, and provided regular opportunities for the public to ask anything and everything about the project, so that voters have accurate information before they vote on January 25. I appreciate their efforts!”
- The Sketch Artist: “I’d like to give a BIG HUGE THANKYOU & Shout out to Del, the past manager/owner of 1204 Broadway Rt. 1 Saugus Dunkin Donuts for Sponsoring The “Guess Who Got Sketched Contest.” Del Sponsored the Contest with #70 $ 10.00 Dunkin Donuts Gifts cards that were ALL given away as prizes to the WINNERS! Winners who called/emailed in with correct answers and were picked out of a green Red Sox Hat by the Saugus Advocate Editor each week! The Last $10.00 gift card number #70 is going out to Winner Doug Pogson for entering/guessing correctly & name drawn for last week’s sketch of Gordon Shepard! Thankyou Del with ALL my heart!!! 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.
Friday breakfasts at Legion Hall still on hold
Concerns about COVID-19 have led to a temporary shutdown of the popular Friday morning breakfasts at the Saugus American Legion Cpl Scott J. Procopio Post 210 Legion Hall located at 44 Taylor St. Legion Hall was supposed to reopen recently for the breakfasts, but the reopening has been delayed again. Debra Dion Faust, Building Manager of American Legion Post 210, said the American Legion membership voted to delay the reopening until Friday, Feb. 4.
Live Bingo at the Kowloon
The Kowloon Restaurant kicked off its Live Bingo this week and will continue with Bingo every Wednesday through March 30 from 7 to 9 p.m. in the Hong Kong Room. Prizes will be given away each week with a grand prize set at the finale. A full Chinese gourmet is available during Bingo featuring pupu 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 tomorrow (Saturday, Jan. 15), February 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.
Trash/Recycling one-day holiday delay
The Town of Saugus has announced that the trash and recycling collection will run on a one-day delay from Tuesday, January 18, 2022, through Saturday, January 22, 2022, due to the observance of Martin Luther King Day. There will be no collection on Monday, January 17, 2022, due to the holiday. Services will resume on a one-day delay from Tuesday, January 18, 2022, through Saturday, January 22, 2022. Trash and Recycling will continue to run on a one-day delay for the remainder of the week.
The Town of Saugus would like to thank everyone for their cooperation. Please contact Solid Waste/Recycling Coordinator Lorna Cerbone at 781-231-4036 with any questions.
Want to be a Knight?
The Knights of Columbus is looking for new members to join. If 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, providing information about the program.)
Who we are: Healthy Students-Healthy Saugus (HS2) is a nonprofit group of volunteers that are helping to offset food insecurity in households. HS2 provides students/families that 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 in the basement of Cliftondale Congregational Church at 50 Essex St. in Saugus.
Clarifying some veterans’ issues
Jay Pinette, the Veterans Service 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 email@example.com.
“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 firstname.lastname@example.org. Or on the first floor of Saugus Town Hall at 298 Central Street, Saugus MA 01906.”
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 email@example.com.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org or leave a phone message at 978-683-7773. Anyone who between now and Tuesday at noon correctly identifies the Saugonian who was sketched 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 to J&M Italian American Cuisine (340 Central St., 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”)