December 28 2018,  Saugus

Year in review

A monthly breakdown of the top stories in The Saugus Advocate during 2018

January

Officials cancel two days of school and issue snow emergency and town-wide parking ban. Hockeytown USA – a Route 1 sports landmark for more than 45 years – has a new operator; the Haverhill-based company will keep the same name on its sign. Selectmen seek to alleviate traffic problems at Waybright Elementary School and Veterans Memorial Elementary School. Snowstorm with tidal surge socks Saugus – Saugus Fire Department, using inflatable boat, rescues Milton Street woman in her early 80’s from her house as water level reaches four feet. State Rep. Donald Wong says he will seek a fifth two-year term representing voters of the Ninth Essex House District. World Series Park announces it will add a Wall of Fame to honor contributors. Two elderly people – a man and his wife – suffer serious injuries while crossing Central Street. Twenty Saugus Pop Warner players are honored as New England All American Scholars by selectmen at Town Hall. The Saugus River, the Saugus Iron Works and Route 1 will be reflected in the architectural design, texture and color of the future Saugus Middle School-High School, members of the Saugus High School Project Building Committee learn in a project update. Jack Perry, an 81-year-old Innis Street homeowner, sees relief on the horizon as town proceeds with a $1.2 million drainage improvement project to alleviate flooding near the Elm Street Bridge that has haunted him for decades. Saugus Public Schools Superintendent Dr. David DeRuosi, Jr., says he’s requesting “a modest 2.7 percent increase” in School Department budget. Police cite driver for crosswalk violations in crash that injured an elderly couple while they were crossing Central Street.

 

February

Kane’s Donuts co-owner Paul Delios takes some “Boston Cream” and “Go Pats!” Donuts to New York City for producers of NBC’s Today Show to show off the shop’s wager against a Philadelphia donuts shop as the New England Patriots and the Philadelphia Eagles prepare for the Super Bowl. Saugus native Jonathan Cheever – one of the top snowboarders in the world – will compete as a member of the U.S. Snowboarding team in the XXIII Olympic Winter Games in South Korea. The state Attorney General’s Division of Open Government determines the School Committee violated the Open Meeting Law by keeping inadequate minutes of a March 16, 2017, executive session – allegations in a complaint filed last year by then–School Committee Member Peter Manoogian. Veteran Saugus firefighter William E. Cross III receives a promotion to Acting Lieutenant of the Saugus Fire Department. Former Saugus Selectman candidate Michael A. Coller expresses an interest in State Rep. Donald Wong’s Ninth Essex House District seat. The Saugus Advocate files a complaint against the Saugus School Committee, alleging it might have violated several provisions of the state’s Open Meeting Law (OML) – less than a week after the state Attorney General cited the committee for violating OML. The Saugus Advocate, in response to readers’ complaints about alleged violations of the state OML and Public Records Laws, begins publishing “The Public’s Right to Know,” an ongoing series on the challenges of making open government work in Saugus. School Committee Chair Jeanette Meredith begins a new part-time job with the Town of Saugus as a “floating office clerk,” an appointment that Town Manager Scott Crabtree touts as “a good fit” for the town. U.S. Army Veteran Matthew Crescenzo says he is considering a challenge of incumbent state Rep. Donald Wong in the Ninth Essex House District race this fall. Saugus resident Brian Petzke pleads guilty in U.S. District Court to his role in conspiracy to traffic counterfeit steroids, including testosterone and trenbolone. Unseasonably warm weather – into the low- and mid-70’s – makes Breakheart Reservation a fun place to play, exercise and picnic in shorts and t-shirts for a couple of days in February. Finance Director & Treasurer/Collector Wendy Hatch hails “historic evening for the Town of Saugus” as she notes nine agencies competed to loan the town money for $65.7 million in projects. Saugus resident Thomas Lucey, an MBTA trolley operator, is indicted for fraudulently collecting workers’ compensation and disability insurance after allegedly paying an associate to attack him on the job in 2016.

 

March

Town Manager Scott Crabtree says a truancy officer in his proposed 2019 Fiscal Year budget could be a $1.5 million savings for the town. An 18-year-old Saugus woman is among three teens arrested for an armed home invasion in Andover. Police probe a threatening message discovered by a janitor at Saugus High School (SHS). The Saugus Advocate files a second complaint against the Saugus School Committee, alleging more violations of the state OML. Nor’easter devastates Houston Avenue neighborhood again, flooding homes with three to four feet of water. State Rep. Brendan Crighton (D-Lynn) wins Third Essex Senate District seat without opposition. Town Manager Scott Crabtree declares his “Top level one priority” for the year – developing a capital improvement plan; selectmen approve an April 9 session to consider 14 articles for a Special Town Meeting. The latest inductions into the SHS Sports Hall of Fame reflect the community’s reputation as “a hockey town. The school’s Sports Hall of Fame Committee votes to honor the 1999 SHS hockey team that won the Division 2 MIAA State Championship and four Sachem hockey greats in this year’s Hall of Fame ceremonies. Police Chief Domenic DiMella says he wants more details about the large increases in assault crimes reflected in a 2017 report. The World Series Park superintendent says March snow will probably delay usage of the ballfield for weeks. The Saugus Public Library hosts the Fourth Annual “Books in Bloom” event. The Saugus Business Education Collaborative honors nine students at the 14th Annual Unsung Hero Awards banquet. The Finance Committee gives favorable recommendations on all articles – more than $5 million in requests – for the Special Town Meeting. The town’s new Annual Report focuses on projects that improved life for Saugus youngsters. Town Clerk Ellen Schena calls on the halls of Saugus town government to make sure they know about the state’s Conflict of Interest Law and how it applies to them. Purchasing Agent Terri Peznola leaves for a similar town government job in Andover – for double the pay.

 

April

The town’s Police and Fire Departments will receive slightly less funding than what they requested in the public safety budgets, but Town Manager Scott Crabtree says he won’t be cutting back on police officers or firefighters. A proposed $2 million appropriation from free cash into Saugus’s Stabilization Fund will be the top money item at the Special Town Meeting. Members will consider 15 articles valued at more than $5 million. After reviewing the crime statistics for the past two years, the Police Department determines that the assault crime categories didn’t increase as dramatically as what a comparison of the two years showed. The Saugus Advocate files a third OML complaint, this one challenging the committee’s removal of the specific meeting location from recent agenda notices. Saugus and Revere police seize cocaine and credit card-making materials; two men face several charges following a three-month investigation. The state gives Wheelabrator a green light on ash landfill expansion, but environmental foes already threaten lawsuits to block the project. A warrant article being crafted for next month’s Annual Town Meeting would ban the retail sale of marijuana in Saugus. An army veteran from Saugus declares his candidacy against State Rep. Donald Wong in the Ninth Essex District House race. A hockey rink proposal draws spirited debate; all articles pass overwhelmingly during a Special Town Meeting. During a Finance Committee Budget Review session, Town Manager Scott Crabtree praises DPW Director Brendan O’Regan for “dramatic improvement” in delivery of town services. Precinct 4 Town Meeting members say their late colleague – Patricia McLaughlin – will be missed. Abbey Chesna tops a field of eight Saugonians in the Boston Marathon. Staff Sgt. Arthur F. DeFranzo VFW Post 2346 holds its 50th Commemoration Program to honor Vietnam War Era Veterans. A woman keeps her house after paying off more than $60,000 she owed the town. Concerns about traffic congestion on Route 1 surface as the deadline for public comment approaches on a proposed 300-unit 40B apartment development near Prankers Pond.

 

May

The Saugus Police Department teams up with Cops for Kids with Cancer to help a two-year-old girl and her family. Former SHS track stars and running buddies start “Fun Run” program at Breakheart Reservation for children in grades 1-8. Saugus announces the appointment of four new police officers. Saugus hosts the 26th Annual Taste of Education. SHS students speak out in support of Amy Guider after her contract is not renewed as executive assistant to the superintendent of Saugus Public Schools. Annual Town Meeting approves a new bylaw to crack down on illegal stormwater discharges and bring Saugus into compliance with EPA regulations. The state Department of Environmental Protection violated a longtime law that requires local review of Wheelabrator Technologies, Inc.’s plans to expand its ash landfill, the Conservation Law Foundation claims in a lawsuit filed in Suffolk Superior Court. Saugus, which has the third highest enrollment at Northeast Metropolitan Regional Vocational School, continues to pay way more than any of the other communities in the district, officials complain during a Finance Committee Budget Review session. Saugus Police seek the public’s help in solving the theft of several heavy sewer grates. Kathleen M. “Kathy” Callahan, 47, of Saugus, leaves seven children and a grandchild behind after suffering fatal injuries when her Ford SUV collides with an MBTA bus on Essex Street in a Mother’s Day tragedy. Nearly two weeks after a raccoon got electrocuted at the Wheelabrator Technologies, Inc. plant and set off a noisy late night power failure that frightened some of the neighbors, town officials complain about the incident and the company’s reluctance to explain it. State Police charge two in a Route 1 bust for trafficking in oxycodone. The state awards nearly $7 million for a new railroad drawbridge over the Saugus River. Several times a month, a local government body violates the Executive Session component of the state OML by failing to properly post the meeting notice and not citing a specific reason for its intention to go into an Executive Session. Several state regulatory and law enforcement agencies investigate allegations of misconduct that led to the firing of a worker at a foster care residential home at 36 Western Ave. in Saugus; children are removed from the home – Atlantic House of Eliot Community Human Services. The FBI is investigating allegations that the ex-worker took a child out of the facility on several occasions to have sex with unknown men for money.

 

June

State Rep. Donald Wong will face two challengers from Saugus on the November election ballot when he seeks a fifth two-year term representing voters of the Ninth Essex House District. More than 90 percent of the 126 SHS seniors who are set to receive diplomas at the school’s 147th commencement exercises plan to attend two- or four-year institutions. Town Manager Scott Crabtree announces the town has signed an agreement with Armstrong Ambulance as the sole ambulance provider. Saugus TV takes Bronze and Silver in the 39th Annual Telly Awards. About one out of five dollars in the town’s operating budget will be spent on employee health benefits by the year 2023, according to a Finance Committee report issued at the Annual Town Meeting – the report prompted one member to label it “a potential tsunami wave” that could affect future town finances. Seven SHS student athletes are suspended for smoking celebratory cigars at commencement exercises. The Annual Town Meeting concludes with a debate over unused street money. Town Planner Krista Leahy joins the list of key town staff members to resign over the past year; she resigns just 22 months after she began the job and seven months after the departure of Planning Director Stephen Cole. The Saugus Action Volunteers for the Environment (SAVE) announce their plans to hold first annual Rumney Marsh Art Exhibition in the fall. Officials order evacuation in Cliftondale after detecting “explosive levels of gas.” Planning Board Chair Peter Rossetti, Jr. says new development – much of it on Route 1 – could result in “a precinct’s worth of growth,” the equivalent of 2,000 to 4,000 new people within the next couple of years. Six students receive 2018 Officer Harold L. Vitale Memorial Fund Scholarships. During the group’s annual dinner meeting, SAVE honors Board of Selectmen Chair Debra Panetta for her commitment to protecting the environment. Saugus resident Brian Petzke receives two years in federal prison for involvement in a counterfeit steroid conspiracy. The Town of Saugus tackles pavement projects to improve roadway safety and traffic flow. The state Attorney General’s Division of Open Government determines the Saugus School Committee violated the state OML, confirming three complaints filed by The Saugus Advocate – including one allegation that the committee met in an improper Executive Session. The town mourns the passing of legendary Boy Scout Troop 62 leader Ken Barnes. The Town of Saugus begins major renovation of Town Hall; the project is expected to cost $600,000. Kowloon Restaurant gets approval from the selectmen to have an outside dining area under a tent. The School Committee gives Saugus Public Schools Superintendent Dr. David DeRuosi, Jr. a mixed report card in its latest evaluation; the board votes 3-2 to give him a two-year contract extension. Saugus TV mulls over the option of buying its own building instead of renting, prompted by concerns that it will have to find a new home when the future Saugus Middle-High School opens in the fall of 2020.

 

July

Eagle Scout Michael Daniel Iacone of Boy Scout Troop 635 of Malden discusses the American flag retirement firepit he built for his Eagle Scout Public Service Project at Breakheart Reservation in Saugus. A Honduras man who was living with a cousin in Lynn drowns on July 4 while trying to swim to an island in Silver Lake at Breakheart Reservation. Officials determine a pile of oily rags caught fire by “spontaneous combustion” and ignited a three-alarm blaze at a Juniper Drive home. Citizens call on officials to take steps to slow traffic and eliminate public safety hazards on roads; Robert Hoffman, a former, longtime Town Meeting member, gives the selectmen a first-person account of a horrific pedestrian experience when he and his wife were mowed down while crossing Central Street back in January by a driver in his 80’s. A Winter Street property owner faces potentially heavy fines as the Board of Heath votes to uphold a “public health nuisance” citation. School officials, town leaders, state officials, teachers, parents and students get a chance to play together in a ceremonial sandbox as construction officially begins on the future Saugus Middle-High School. Robert Hoffman discusses dangers he’s faced while walking on Saugus streets. Saugus resident Renan DaSilva faces multiple charges after a fatal head-on crash in Malden. The Saugus Historical Commission seeks to preserve SHS history before the building is demolished, and wants to locate the time capsule that was buried on Sept. 17, 1954. Five new Saugus firefighters begin their careers. The Saugus Farmers Market draws summer and fall crowds to Anna Parker Playground. The Saugus Iron Works National Historic Site observes “World Ranger Day.” The state awards Saugus $250,000 in Green Communities funds, the third “Green” grant in four years.

 

August

Demolition crews begin early work on the Saugus Middle-High School construction. Didgeridoo Day – The Land Down Under comes alive for children and grown-ups at the Saugus Public Library. The Saugus Historical Commission discusses hunting for the 1954 Saugus Time Capsule and a project to chronicle the high school building’s history in photos. World Series Park unveils and dedicates its Wall of Fame. Fire officials cite cooking issues as the cause of two recent house fires. A Golden Retriever trained as comfort dog for people facing stressful events also helps kids learn to read at Saugus Public Library. Donald Patti, a Korean War veteran from Saugus, is set to receive the Korean Ambassador for Peace Medal – 62 years after he served. Athletic Director James Bunnell leaves his job after less than a year to take a job that’s about an hour’s drive closer to his home. Saugus receives more grant money to battle opioid overdoses. More than 40 candidates apply for the vacant athletic director’s job. Three Saugus firefighters – Firefighter Anthony Arone, Lt. William Cross III and Firefighter Michael Leary – receive citations for “heroic actions” from the Board of Selectmen. A company with plans of building a LongHorn Steakhouse at the current location of Sears Automotive near the Square One Mall seeks an early transfer of a liquor license before it closes the deal on the property and moves forward on construction plans. Aided by a $500,000 state grant, the Water Street Bridge replacement project nears completion. Town Manager Scott Crabtree calls traffic safety improvements “a top priority.” Rebecca Bowman of Saugus is charged with prescription medication theft from an elderly man in her care. New Oaklandvale Elementary School Principal Michael Smith has an extensive background in performing and teaching music. New Assistant Saugus High School Principal Rick Doucette, a former Saugus School Committee member, says he gave up a career in mechanical engineering to be a teacher. Saugus Police Chief Domenic DiMella retires after 29 years with the Saugus Police Department – the last decade as chief. The Saugus Historical Society considers sharing its building with Saugus Cable TV. Hot, humid weather forces a shorter school day for students during the first week of classes; Saugus school officials authorize early release during the first three days. The state Alcoholic Beverages Control Commission (ABCC) disapproves of the Board of Selectmen’s decision to cancel an alcoholic beverage license in late 2016 and the board’s denying its renewal for 2017 and 2018 – the ABCC determined that EKB Corp., doing business as Sully C’s Bar & Grill, wasn’t treated fairly by selectmen during the proceedings. If he is elected to Congress, Congressional write-in candidate Carlos Hernandez of Saugus vows, he will file a lawsuit against Massachusetts over the automatic voter registration law.

 

September

Saugus High School Head Football Coach Anthony Nalen is suspended during a misconduct probe, in the wake of allegations of players being forced to practice in their underwear. Town vote mirrors statewide primary results in an election that draws close to 19 percent of the town’s registered voters. State Police arrest Joshua Thomson of Saugus for failure to stop his pickup truck with an unsecured load of scrap metal items, including a hot water tank that was only secured with a bungee cord while the tailgate of his truck was down. A Saugus Police Department investigation determines there is no evidence that coach Nalen ordered one of his players to practice in his underwear in an alleged hazing incident last month; members of the SHS football team picket at Saugus Center to show support for their suspended coach. Saugus honors Peter Manoogian and Janette Fasano with the 2018 “Person of the Year Award” at the 38th Annual Saugus Founders Day Celebration – Manoogian and Fasano join an exclusive group of three other former selectmen who served together (1987 to 1991) and are past recipients of the award – Robert Long (2017), Richard Barry (2006) and Florence Chandler (2003). Citizens ask officials to eliminate dangers for pedestrians and traffic; the town manager promises “it’s a priority.” The Town of Saugus responds to a threat of West Nile virus after a positive test for a mosquito collected in Saugus; spraying is initiated. The Board of Health orders Casa Vallarta Family Mexican Restaurant to hire a food safety consultant to assist in correcting several ongoing violations identified during inspections at the business over the past two years. Saugus feels the wrath of Hurricane Florence, a killer storm system that wreaked havoc on the Carolinas and hits Saugus with a microburst and flooding. Coach Nalen gets fired by Superintendent of Schools DeRuosi a day after filing a lawsuit against school officials; the ex-coach claims he was wrongly suspended as “retribution” for not backing school officials on a matter he said he had no involvement with. After months of planning, the Saugus Public Schools, the Saugus Faith Community and the Saugus Food Pantry are ready to begin a food project for the town’s needy children. Police probe a Main Street drive-by shooting incident. The Belmonte Middle School is among 30 schools in Massachusetts “requiring assistance or intervention” while being “in need of focused/targeted support,” according to a report released by the state Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE). The report also notes that three other Saugus schools – SHS, the Oaklandvale Elementary School and the Waybright Elementary School – are “partially meeting targets” in MCAS testing. A handful of Saugus school officials and educators receive a demonstration of a program that uses mobile technology to get prekindergarten and kindergarten children to master reading skills at an early age. Ex-coach Nalen gives up his court fight to get reinstated after a judge rules against him. But Nalen vows he will continue with his lawsuit against the Saugus Public Schools to clear his damaged reputation. Rumney Marsh is on display at SAVE’s first annual art exhibit.

 

October

New Saugus Public Schools Athletic Director Terri Pillsbury played women’s semipro football. In an effort to help fight bullying, Saugus Karate/Kung-Fu offers a week of free martial arts to any Saugus student during the month. Former Saugus Scoutmaster Jim Virnelli is the life of Troop 61’s 90th Birthday Party. Superintendent DeRuosi talks about addressing MCAS and state accountability results. A Grand Jury indicts Ashley Goodrich, a Lynn woman, for trafficking a minor from a Saugus group home for sexual servitude in Boston and Worcester. The defendant worked at Eliot Community Human Services’ Atlantic House in Saugus.

Boy Scouts get to talk about vintage Cadillacs and LaSalles at a car show hosted at the Saugus Iron Works National Historic Site and sponsored by the New England Region Cadillac & LaSalle Club and Boy Scout Troop 62. A new fire truck is on display at the Fire Department’s Annual Open House. SHS students were short 42 hours in structured learning time over the 2017-18 school year, according to a program audit by the state Department of Elementary and Secondary Education. State Rep. Wong outspends his political challengers in the 9th Essex District race. Cassandra Anderson, a standout high school athlete who went on to star in collegiate sports at Holy Cross, credits the education she and her twin sister Kelsey got from SHS with their getting full college scholarships. The Anderson twins are among 10 former SHS athletic greats into the SHS Athletic Hall of Fame, along with the 1999 State Championship Hockey Team. For the eighth consecutive year, the basement of the historic MEG Building transforms into Saugus’s own little Haunted House to raise money for local charities. The Foundation for the Saugus Public Library honors four “Readers Make Good Leaders” award recipients during the foundation’s Fourth Annual Gala. The Town completes energy-efficient capital projects at the library and the public safety building. William Sutton Lodge A.F. & A.M. members discuss the pride that drives them. School Building Committee members tour the site of the future Saugus Middle-High School.

 

November

For the second time in three years, Massachusetts voters get a chance to cast their ballots at the polls early; 50 to 60 percent turnout is expected in Saugus. State Rep. Donald Wong wins 66 percent of Saugus votes to notch his fifth two-year term representing voters of the Ninth Essex District. Wong wins decisively over two opponents, sweeping all of the precincts in the three communities he represents. Fourteen of the 461 Saugonians who served in World War I and whose name appears on the bronze World War I “Honor Roll” tablet outside of Town Hall are flanked by a star – a designation for those who died while serving their country. U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren wins a second term easily, but loses in Saugus by more than 1,000 votes. The owners of a Malden-based cleaning company – Marcello Pompa and Marcella Freitas, both of Saugus – are indicted for allegedly evading more than $74,000 in Workers’ Compensation Insurance premiums. Home-schooled students could participate in high school athletics and extracurricular activities under a new policy being considered. Saugus Police arrest Irving Terrero, a Lynn man, on drug and firearms charges. SHS football team Co-Captain Jake Morgante wins the Saugus Lions Club’s “Heisman Award” at the club’s 46th Annual Football Meeting and Dinner. In a rare feat, Division I Schools sign two SHS student athletes – Allison LeBlanc and Todd Tringale – to play collegiate sports next year. A public meeting prompts more answers and questions about proposed Northern Strand Community Trail changes. Attacking the speeding problem will take a comprehensive, town-wide approach, including a larger traffic unit, the town manager says. “Don’t make the choices I made,” a recovered drug addict tells seniors at a Lions Club football banquet. Town Manager Scott Crabtree says he didn’t realize how unsafe some of the town’s crosswalks are until he and a handful of town officials and residents participated in a walking audit about two months ago. Saugus resident and Cub Scout Pack 62 parent Ed Amoroso finishes his climb of Mt. Kilimanjaro – the highest mountain in Africa. The School Department begins a crackdown on out-of-town students who don’t belong in Saugus schools because they are not residents. New tax rates are set; on the average, homeowners will pay $459 more and businesses will pay $2,819 more under a plan approved by the selectmen. School officials grapple with e-cigarettes – a potential health concern that federal officials call “a national epidemic.” Former Pats quarterback and broadcasting personality Scott Zolak will sign his new book at Barnes & Noble next week.

 

December

The Saugus holiday season officially begins with the town’s Annual Tree Lighting Ceremony and Festivities. The Belmonte Middle School showcases “The YES Club,” which is short for “Youth Empowering Saugus.” The selectmen object to an emission control plan Wheelabrator has filed with the State Department of Environmental Protection. A new bumper sticker has emerged – “CITIZENS FOR A SAFER SAUGUS … 25 MPH TOWN-WIDE” – that has become the battle cry of a grassroots effort by residents aimed at reducing the speed limit of Saugus streets while making overall road conditions safer for pedestrians and motorists. The historic MEG Building hosts the MEG Foundation’s 8th Annual Christmas Tree Festival, titled “A Christmas to Remember.” The Saugus Veterans Relief Fund helps a disabled Saugonian get his battery-powered wheelchair back on the street. Veteran Pop Warner football coach Kevin Andrews teams up again with Saugus We Care in a toy drive to help make Christmas brighter for needy children. The Massachusetts State Police arrest a 36-year-old East Falmouth woman after an investigation reveals she allegedly stabbed a 32-year-old Saugus woman with a knife in a highway incident on the ramp of Route 24 North to Route 495 Northbound in Bridgewater. Selectman Jeffrey Cicolini says he met in the Iron Town Diner with two officials from Wheelabrator Technologies, Inc. “to hear their side of the story.” Momentum builds for traffic safety issues affecting pedestrians, motorists and bicyclists to become a key topic of discussion at next year’s Annual Town Meeting. A Saugus homeowner gets her money back from a solar panel company that tried to scam her out of $4,500.

 

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