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Top Cover Stories of 2022

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Relations between Town and WIN Waste Innovations on issues related to incinerator and ash landfill dominate the front pages of The Saugus Advocate over the past year

  There’s no contest over what was the top story in Saugus during 2022. Issues related to WIN Waste Innovations – the town’s largest taxpayer and the owner of the trash-to-energy plant and its ash landfill on Route 107 – dominated the front page month after month.

  “For me the top Saugus story of 2022 was the creation of the Host Community agreement with WIN [WIN Waste Innovations]. An agreement that will bring in excess of 30 million dollars to Saugus while lowering the emissions in the process,” Board of Selectmen Chair Anthony Cogliano said.

  “After years of watching endless court battles where we lose time and time again the Town of Saugus finally has scored a victory with WIN. I believe this is the beginning of great things to come in the future. Having a positive working relationship with WIN will yield long term benefits to Saugus and our surrounding communities,” he said.

  Board of Selectmen Vice Chair Debra Panetta also cited WIN Waste Innovations for different reasons. She opposed the current draft of the Host Community Agreement being negotiated between the town and WIN. “I think the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP) clearly stating that WIN Waste Innovations cannot expand the life of their unlined ash landfill is most significant.

  Here are the front page stories that appeared in The Saugus Advocate over the past year


  December is dubbed “the month of COVID-19,” as public health nurse reports 1,312 cases of the Coronavirus confirmed in Saugus last month. Saugus joins voters from a dozen communities in landslide support of a new Northeast Metro Tech School. WIN Waste Innovations nears a response to Landfill Committee’s “to do” list in improving trash-to-energy site and landfill. School Superintendent Erin McMahon seeks a $1.5 million increase in the School Department budget to reach top 10 educational goal in five years. The state Appeals Court rules the forfeiture of former Saugus Town Manager Bisignani’s pension is constitutional; the $1.5 million retirement loss is believed to be the largest pension forfeiture by a Massachusetts public employee. COVID-19 totals soar in Saugus Public Schools after students return from vacation.


  Saugus Fire Department promotes Lt. William Cross to captain; Firefighter Donald Blandini to lieutenant. Veteran Selectmen Panetta and Cicolini spent $5,000 apiece to get reelected last fall. Selectmen vote on Kowloon project delayed again as Selectman Panetta presses for more information. A dramatic drop in COVID-19 cases and a 76 percent vaccination rate among town residents prompts Board of Health to downgrade the indoor mask mandate to an advisory. An elite director and a topflight actor team up for a day of filming at The Continental, a landmark Route 1 restaurant. Based on recent history, Town Manager Crabtree is unlikely to match $1.5 million increase Schools Supt. McMahon seeks when he unveils his FY23 budget proposal. WIN Waste Innovations and Square One Mall rank one and two in what they will pay Town of Saugus in 2022 property taxes.


  Selectmen delay vote on Special Permit on Kowloon project – again – to get feedback from the Planning Board on feasibility of two six-story buildings vs. three four-story buildings. Town Manager’s proposed FY 2023 budget only provides $400,000 of the $1.5 million increase sought by the school superintendent. State Rep. Donald Wong, R-Saugus, seeks a seventh two-year term. State Appeals Court upholds Superior Court Ruling that trash-to-energy plan on Route 107 has a valid site assignment; court also rules that MassDEP issued a proper permit for ash landfill modification and facility poses no threat to public health or the environment – contradicting Board of Health claims. The first woman commander of the USS Constitution is named Grand Marshal of this year’s Memorial Day Parade. Veteran Services Officer Jay Pinette plans to retire next month after four years on the job. The Finance Committee reviews proposed spending plans for police and fire departments.


  Superintendent McMahon warns school district staff to prepare for up to 32 possible layoffs. First Congregational Church takes steps to support the people of Ukraine as the country faces a humanitarian crisis. Saugus Board of Selectmen backs proposal to fund electrification of Newburyport-Rockport Commuter Rail line. Saugus resident Brandon Montella – a US Marine veteran – plans to run 100 miles on Veterans Day to honor Saugus veterans and raise money for his cause. Board of Health seeks a fifth member after being handicapped for months by the vacancy of vice chair’s seat. Members will consider the creation of a stabilization fund for the vocational school construction project at next month’s Special Town Meeting.


  Town Meeting supports the sale of recreational marijuana in Saugus, overturning a 2018 vote that rejected pot money. School Committee Chair Thomas Whittredge resigns six months into his new term, citing the need to be with his two children after losing his wife to cancer. A dozen of 13 articles win unanimous support at the Special Town Meeting. Town Meeting returns to Town Hall for the first time in three years since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic.


  The 165 students will become the first to receive their diplomas at Christie Serino Jr. Memorial Stadium as Saugus High prepares for its 151st commencement exercises. A Lynn-based pot manufacturer plans to introduce itself to citizens via a virtual meeting. Selectmen laud Senior Center Director Olsen after she announces retirement; she’s been a fixture at the center for close to a quarter of a century – the last 13 as director. A Saugus High Honor student from Cameroon ends a 5,50-plus mile odyssey that her parents began 17 years earlier so she could get higher education.


  Last year’s problem of unruly kids on bikes terrorizing drivers and pedestrians has resurfaced on Saugus streets. WIN Waste says it’s willing to pay Saugus up to $15 million if it can use the ash landfill near the company’s trash-to-energy plant on Route 107 for another 25 years. WIN Waste will offer an updated host agreement for Saugus that Board of Selectmen Chair Cogliano suggests could help pay for a West Side Fire Station. Saugus Public Schools Superintendent McMahon draws rave reviews from School Committee members in her first evaluation. A dozen companies have approached Saugus town officials about opening retail pot shops.



  Town Election ballots for Sept. 6 State Primary offer limited choices for Democratic and Republican voters. Essex County District Attorney Jonathan Blodgett determines there is no basis to prosecute Saugus police officer in last year’s shooting of Stephanie Gerardi in her Alfred Road home. Officer Sean Murphy told investigators he feared for his life when he fired three shots at her, one of them striking her in the head. First female recruit to carry on family legacy as a Saugus firefighter. Landfill Committee endorses WIN Waste Innovations’ $18.8 million revised offer for 25 more years at ash landfill.


  With a lack of contested races, few Saugus residents turn out for the first of five days of in-person early voting. Eleven veterans from Saugus prepare for Rolling to Washington, D.C. trip to see the Vietnam Veterans War Memorial. Selectman Panetta questions timing of Selectmen meeting on WIN Waste Innovations deal; Cogliano denies her request to wait until after MassDEP officials meet with town. Saugus Youth & Recreation Department gets Crystal Cakounes as director; Laurie Davis named to head up the Saugus Senior Center. Saugus historian/writer Thomas Sheehan and Saugus Historical Society President Laura Eisener honored as this year’s “Person of the Year” recipients at 41st Annual Saugus Founders Day Celebration. MassDEP official tells forum that current state laws won’t allow expansion of WIN Waste Innovation’s ash landfill. Selectmen approve a tentative deal with WIN Waste Innovations that would eliminate tipping fees for waste disposal in return for 20 more years of ash landfill. Precinct 10 Town Meeting members gain enough signatures for Special Town Meeting to consider a resolution that would ban the expansion of the ash landfill near WIN Waste Innovations’ trash-to-energy plant on Route 107.


  Saugus officials join with representatives from four area cities to celebrate the completion of the Northern Strand Community Trail. A group protests the destruction of 13-plus acres of trees for construction of the new Northeast Metro Tech School in Wakefield. Saugus MCAS scores rank in the bottom quarter of schools in the state, but Superintendent McMahon sees progress. Saugus Middle-High School will host “Saugus 4-1-1” to teach newcomers and old-timers about their hometown.


  Town officials begin the long process of how to make use of six retired school buildings. Attorney General approves marijuana-related amendments passed at Town Meeting.


  Companies are lining up to pursue Special Permits to sell pot. Town residents enjoy mild weather for Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony. A crowd of close to 100 people gathers outside of Town Hall at noon to make a statement against anti-Semitism while introducing a Menorah Lighting ceremony that town officials vow will become a regular occurrence in the future. In response to a September sign incident that disparaged Jewish people, officials plan a Menorah Lighting ceremony at Town Hall. Companies are lining up to pursue special permits to sell pot. On average, homeowners will pay $245.80 more on the average Saugus single-family home; businesses will pay $1,548 more under plan approved by selectmen for FY 2003.

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