All the best for 2022
Happy New Year, Saugus!
For all of the folks who I had hoped to run into or talk to over the holiday season – but didn’t – best wishes to you and your family for 2022, for a happy, healthy and better New Year than the one we just finished.
Be well, be safe and be smart as you approach the New Year. If you want to make the most of your New Year, make a list of goals and objectives that you would like to accomplish. Get organized: Planners and calendars should be available in the book stores and stationary supply shops at a discount, and they can be useful tools as you look ahead and plan projects and various events for the New Year. Take steps to revisit healthy habits, whether it’s walking or exercising daily or cleaning up the clutter in your house, garage and car. It’s time to start over and renew pursuit of a healthier, happier and more productive life.
Reflections of the old year
So, what happened in Saugus in 2021?
As part of my work, I spent more than 15 hours thumbing through each of our weekly editions over the past year, gleaning some highlights from each month to sum up the most significant and interesting stories that we published in The Saugus Advocate and typing it down in a file for our story “Year in Review, A monthly breakdown of the top stories in The Saugus Advocate during 2021.” Of course, I don’t expect many people to read the entire story. But it does offer the reader who is curious about some major happenings in a particular month, to jog their memory. Keep in mind, it is all subjective, based on my view as an outsider whose job is to cover the news and write stories and take photos that focus on the Saugus news or community events of any given week.
Fifteen hours of perusing newspapers and writing a summary might seem like a tedious, time-consuming and unproductive task. But it does provide a useful foundation if I am going to look back on the past year and summarize it for the loyal readers of The Saugus Advocate. While I was doing the marathon newspaper read, I also used a legal pad to make a monthly inventory of the front-page articles in each of the newspapers we published this year.
Again, it’s all subjective. Something that strikes me as interesting enough to write about may bore somebody else to tears. At the same time, any reader can make a compelling case about a significant news story that I didn’t have on my list. And I’m sure if you asked the Board of Selectmen and School Committee to offer their views on the top 10 stories of the year, you would get an entirely different response from each official. But I decided just to ask selectmen and School Committee members to tell me what they thought was their top story, and also a runner-up story if they preferred.
It was nearly unanimous on COVID-19 as their top choice. And that shouldn’t be a surprise to anybody, or at least any of our readers. We had 24 page one stories related to COVID-19 throughout the year. And we probably ran more photos of people wearing cloth masks or facial coverings over the past year than at any time in the history of the paper. And if the upward trend on COVID cases continues well through the New Year, we can expect to see more photos of masked people in next year’s newspapers.
One last item: If you think a story should have been included in our list, feel free to email me, and I will include it in next week’s paper. Or, if you disagree with any story on my list, please send me an email or text.
The primary intent of this week’s paper is to get folks to reflect on the past year while spurring some interesting conversation with their family, friends and acquaintances over the year that just ended.
It’s a lot of work to put together a Year-In-Review edition. But I have always done a Year-In-Review at every paper I’ve been at during more than a decade as a weekly newspaper editor. Also, I have been assigned and contributed countless Year-In-Review articles at daily newspapers during my other 30-plus years as a newspaper journalist. It’s always fun to sit down and read the various Year-In-Review editions. And, for the first few months of the New Year, we will be writing other stories as we crunch data from various local and state agencies.
For next week’s edition, I plan to go back and select the top cover photos for each month, narrowing the top choices from each of the front-page photos we have published over the past year. That will be a fun project that I think our readers will enjoy.
New Year’s Resolutions
I have two sets of resolutions: the personal ones and the ones related to improving the paper and making it more interesting for our readers. The personal resolutions usually get broken, at the expense of keeping the professional resolutions. Sometimes my exercise routines and sleep time suffer at the expense of my newspaper-related activities.
This coming year, I resolve to get more sleep and strive to eliminate or drastically reduce all-night work routines in putting out the newspaper. I plan to take a close look at my diet and enhance my exercise routines so I can actually do a better job without my health and personal life taking a hit. But, as we know, that’s a tough task for any newspaper journalist who keeps striving to perfect his craft.
At some point during 2022, I will have reached 50 years as a newspaper journalist. That’s not counting the years I spent as a stringer writing local sports stories and filing them with the Boston and Providence newspapers. It was during the fall of my junior year at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst that I started working weekends and part-time for the Northampton news bureau of The Springfield Union and Sunday Republican newspapers. I got paid $2 an hour for hustling tips and writing stories and covering the Northampton bureau during Saturdays and Sundays. I made the most of that opportunity, getting quite a few front-page bylines in one of the largest metropolitan newspapers in Massachusetts.
So, when I graduated from UMass-Amherst and it came time to prepare for job interviews at newspapers where I applied, I was in a position to accompany my resume with some impressive newspaper clips. That gave me the confidence and experience for a smooth transition from college to the real world.
Breakheart’s “First Day Hike” tomorrow!
So, have you resolved to lose some weight for the New Year and engage in a healthier life?
If so, start off the New Year with an invigorating “First Day Hike” and make a resolution to burn off those extra holiday calories. Tomorrow (Saturday, Jan. 1, 2022) is the day you can begin a walking exercise program. The hike starts at 10 a.m. Meet outside the Visitors Center of Breakheart Reservation, which is located at 177 Forest St. in Saugus.
The state Department of Conservation & Recreation and the Friends of Breakheart Reservation are cosponsoring “Breakheart Reservation First Day Hike” again. A flier issued recently by both groups notes “We will have two guided hikes through the paved loops of Breakheart.
“Be prepared for cold weather – dress in layers and wear winter boots. Bring your friends and family and afterwards warm up with a cup of hot chocolate by the fire pit outside.”
The center will remain open until noon. For more information, call 781-233-0834.
It’s a New Year. Get that walking program going. Don’t make any excuses.
A “Shout-Out” for all of the good deed doers
This is the time of year when the collective generosity of a community shows its true colors. People like to help their fellow man or woman, particularly the forgotten elderly people who live alone and/or in nursing homes. It could be a small act of kindness, like shoveling somebody’s driveway or dropping off a hot chocolate or something to eat. There are a million ways to put a smile on somebody’s face. And ’tis the season to do that, whether it’s for your grandmother or a stranger who nobody visits in a nursing home.
Whatever the case may be, Saugus has its share of good deed doers. So, here are some super “shout-outs” for doing simple acts of kindness. If you know somebody like this, give them a hug. Kindness can be contagious and should be encouraged if we want to help make Saugus a better place.
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 (email@example.com) 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 Debbie Cox for making the right identification in last week’s “Guess Who got Sketched?” contest and then being the one selected from among several 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 Santa’s VIP Mail Elves Saugonians John and Karen Coburn.
“Karen & John’s “Letters to Santa Outreach is featured on the cover & pg. 3 of Saugus Advocate 12/17 21. Karen has retired from Postal Work in 2019 (30 years service) and assisted Santa for over 20 years and John is a retired Police Officer (with Saugus 30 yrs.). Every year These two take on the volunteer duty of Santa’s Marvelous main mail Elves.
“Santa entrusted these two with his very important mail duty of receiving, opening and answering Children’s “Letters to Santa.” They receive his mail from a specially designed red mail box at the Saugus Post Office.
“Karen and John respond to all letters (with return address) sometimes Santa has them include an achievement or accomplishment of the child’s by a confirmation between Santa and parent.)
“This time of year Santa’s very busy loading up the sleigh and last minute December duties! Santa oversees fattening and strengthening up the reindeer to ensure they will make that yearly world trip and making sure the Elves are having lots of fun while making toys.
“Santa made these two his Chief Special North Pole Mail Elfs for all Saugus letters! Santa keeps in close contact with these two!
“Only the best stationery specially designed for Santa is used to answer letters! Some of the times, John & Karen have been known to do random acts of kindness reaching out with a special delivery or two to the homes of the letter writers.
“Thankyou John and Karen for ALL you do! Keep shining brightly!
“Yours truly The Sketch Artist”
Virtual Bingo Night at the library
The Saugus Public Library Foundation will hold its second annual Virtual Bingo Night on Thursday, January 13, beginning at 7 p.m. This family fun event is open to bingo players of all ages and abilities.
“Last year’s Virtual Bingo Night was a great success, and we look forward to beginning the new year with another night of fun and excitement,” Foundation President Kristen Tozza said. “We hope Saugus residents will join us as we raise funds for the Saugus Public Library’s programs and services.”
The cost to participate is $25 for five cards, $40 for 10 cards, and $50 for 15 cards. Bingo cards will be sent via email after registration and payment are received. The registration deadline is January 12. To register, scan the QR Code or click on the Register Now button on the library website: www.sauguspubliclibrary.org/virtual-bingo-2/.
About the Saugus Public Library Foundation: It was established in 2004 through significant gifts from the estates of Douglas Lockwood, Josephine Kibbey and Marie Weeks, as well as funds turned over by the now-disbanded environmental nonprofit Noblast, Inc. and smaller individual trust funds and bequests. The Foundation provides the means for the library to make long-range plans and commitments using the interest earned on the principal balance of the Foundation, and promote and carry out charitable and fundraising activities. To learn more about the Saugus Public Library Foundation, or to make a donation to the Saugus Public Library, please email SaugusPLF@gmail.com.
Veterans Council Meeting date switched
We received this email from CAPT Stephen L. Castinetti, USN (Ret.), Commander of the Saugus Veterans Council, regarding a change of dates in the upcoming Veterans Council meeting.
“Good afternoon and I hope you all had a great holiday. Unfortunately, I will be out of state on January 3, 2022 so I am moving the meeting to January 10, 2022 at 1900,” Steve writes.
“Hopefully that’s not a major inconvenience for anyone.
“I have rapid home Covid tests available and I will have them at the meeting if anyone needs them. In the meantime, have a Happy New Year and let’s hope that 2022 is better than the first two 20’s!”
CAPT Stephen L. Castinetti, USN (Ret.)
Commander, Saugus Veterans Council
COVID-19 halts Friday breakfasts
Concerns about COVID-19 have led to a temporary shutdown of the Friday morning breakfasts at the Saugus American Legion Cpl Scott J. Procopio Post 210 Legion Hall (located at 44 Taylor St.). We received the following email from Debra Dion Faust, Building Manager of American Legion Post 210:
“Be aware that, due to a loss of one of our members to Covid (He caught it at a family wedding, not at the Legion itself.) we shut down the breakfast the Friday before Thanksgiving, intending to re-open tomorrow, December 3.
“However, concerns about the new Omicron variant, the fact that the rather unseasonably warm weather actually works against us, and the fact that the success of the breakfast means that the numbers who come make it difficult to ‘socially distance,’ we took a poll of those breakfast-goers who have given us their email addresses to make notifications possible, and have made the decision to shut down the breakfast for the month of December…We plan to re-open on Friday, January 7. (We hope by that time to have had a truly hard freeze to help short-circuit transmission fears.) Thanks for your support. Have a good holiday season and a Happy New Year.”
We will keep you posted on any developments affecting the Friday breakfasts at Legion Hall.
Compost/Recycling Drop-Off Site temporarily closed
The Town of Saugus Compost/Recycling Drop-Off site closed for the winter season on Dec. 11. However, the site will reopen from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. on the third Saturday of the month in January, February, and March, weather permitting.
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, 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.
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.
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, my preferred site for a coffee and interview would be the picnic area of the Saugus Iron Works.
GUESS WHO GOT SKETCHED! 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 correctly identifies the Saugonian being 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, compliments of Dunkin’ at the 1204 Broadway Saugus location on Route 1 North. 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”)