Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Final School Committee Forum Explores Issues Before Elections


By Katherine Stephens
Gordon College News Service
Oct. 28, 2013
(This story appeared Oct. 29, 2013, in the Salem Your Town site of the Boston Globe.)

SALEM—Despite competing with game five of the World Series, the Salem School Committee Candidate Forum drew close to 100 people Monday night, Oct. 28, at the Nathaniel Bowditch School. It was the last opportunity for voters to hear from all six candidates before the Nov. 5th elections.

Three incumbents— Janet Crane, Lisa Lavoie, and Brendan Walsh—joined three challengers— Rachel Hunt, Rick Johnson, and Patrick Shultz—as each candidate campaigned for a spot among the three available positions on the seven-member board.

The nearly two-hour forum included introductions, statements, and rebuttals from each candidate and ended with a 20-minute question and answer period from residents. Moderator Dave Olson, editor of the Salem New, read questions from note cards that had been passed around at the beginning of the meeting.

Janine Matho, president of The Salem Education Foundation, began the night by thanking the speakers “for stepping up and running for office and caring about our schools.” She then encouraged the audience to, “get out there and vote. Grab your friends and neighbors and get to the polls, or all of their work will be worth nothing.”

During the introductions, the candidates were asked to define what they saw as a priority for the people of Salem in their schools.

Johnson said he was encouraged to see that people are engaged and knowledgeable about Salem’s schools, but he notices a lack of results. “People are ready for results now,” he said.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Award-Winning Travelers Pull in to Salem


By Dave Hicks
Gordon College News Service
October 25, 2013
(This assigned story appeared Oct. 28, 2013, in the Salem Your Town section of The Boston Globe.)

SALEM—Most people come to Salem in October for the Halloween festivities. But for John Ellis and Laura Preston, National Geographic’s Travelers of the Year, Salem was a place to rest.

After days on the road, the couple arrived in Salem on Sunday, Oct. 20, parking their Airstream travel trailer at Winter Island Park, one of only two RV spots in the North East. Since the middle of 2012, Ellis and Preston have been doing what many Americans only dream of: traveling across the U.S, Airstream in tow, driving back roads and highways to see the diverse regions of the country.

It’s a journey they call, “The Democratic Travelers,” referring to their crowd-sourced travel itinerary that’s decided by others through their website, www.thedemocratictravelers.com. Friends and strangers alike visit the website, suggest a place where the two should travel, or vote on the suggestions of others. If a place receives multiple votes in its favor, “The Democratic Travelers” will turn its camper in that direction.

While no one voted for the travelers to come to Salem, they came anyway to stay at Winter Island Park, glad for the chance to visit and restock their supplies.

“We heard Salem gets pretty exciting around Halloween,” said Preston. “It’s been great to catch a glimpse of what that means.”

By the Numbers:
Miles traveled: +20,000
Days on the road: 264
Campgrounds stayed: 60
Cities visited: 84
States visited: 25
Breakdowns: 0

The couple also used their time in Salem to get some work done, which finances part of the trip. Ellis, 28, works as a freelance webpage designer and Preston, 25, as a virtual assistant. While here, the pair ventured into Cambridge for some Ethiopian food and bluegrass music, and hoped to visit the Salem Witch Museum before leaving the area.

Pink Comic Hero Joins Band to Fight Breast Cancer


By Angie Sykeny
Gordon College News Service
October 10, 2013
(This assigned story appeared in a special print section Wednesday, Oct. 16, 2013, in The Salem News and its sister papers.)

SALEM—Boston’s Marvel comic book character Deadpool has traded in his red suit for a pink one in honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

James Jwanowski, 26, of Peabody, is a local cosplayer, or a person who dresses up as a fictional character from a comic book, video game or film and attends conventions known as Comic Cons. Jwanowski has taken his passion beyond the Comic Con events to become what he calls a “cause-player” and has been dressing up in his original pink Deadpool suit at various breast cancer charity events since October of last year.

“I want to actually be a superhero for people,” Jwanowski writes on his FirstGiving.com fundraiser page. “Since I can't fly, jump over buildings or stop a speeding bullet, I figured I could always dress up for charities for kids, the less fortunate, the sick or whoever wants a great costumed hero at their event.”

His next destination? The Gulu Gulu CafĂ© in Salem, Saturday, Oct. 19 at 8 p.m. alongside “Sylvana Joyce & The Moment,” a gypsy/blues rock band out of Astoria, NY.

The band’s drummer, Ross Liberti, 26, of Jersey City, NJ, grew up in Peabody and has known Jwanowski since preschool. Last summer, Liberti stumbled across a Facebook video of Jwanowski in the pink Deadpool outfit, speaking at a Comic Con event. Then, he had an idea.

It seemed natural, given our ties to Salem, the spirit of Halloween,” said Liberti, “and the fact that Sylvana Joyce & The Moment makes it a point to get involved with charities and benefits, to merge our plans for a Salem Halloween show with James's cause (breast cancer awareness).”

Former Marine Staying Active Despite Stage 4 Breast Cancer


By Katherine Stephens
Gordon College News Service
October 10, 2013
(This assigned story appeared in a special print section Wednesday, Oct. 16, 2013, in The Salem News and its sister papers.)

PEABODY—When former Marine and North Andover resident Peter Devereaux, 51, bumped his hand into his chest one morning and felt a lump, he thought it was a cyst or fatty tissue. Disbelief and shock overwhelmed him when the doctor called back with the results: breast cancer.

“I had no idea men could have breast cancer. I repeated my name on the phone because I wanted to make sure he was looking at my records,” said Devereaux, who was diagnosed with stage 3B invasive ductal carcinoma in January of 2008.

“I can remember the day: it was a Wednesday night, my wife was working late and my daughter, Jackie, was watching Sponge Bob in the other room,” he said. “She was 10 years old at the time.”

Devereaux signed up for the marines after graduating from Peabody High in 1980, and is one of 82 men diagnosed with breast cancer from a speculated water contamination at the Marine Corps base, Camp Lejeune in North Carolina. Devereaux, who was at the base from 1980 to 1982, did not know this was the possible cause until he was already six months into treatment. After 14 months of aggressive radiation, a mastectomy, and the removal of 22 lymph nodes, Devereaux was exhausted and knew there was a high probability of the cancer returning.

“The body gets beat up. Even now, I’m 51, but I feel like I’m 80,” said Devereaux.

National Cancer Survivor Group has Success at North Shore YMCA



By Dave Hicks
Gordon College News Service
October 8, 2013
(This assigned story appeared in a special print section Wednesday, Oct. 16, 2013, in The Salem News and its sister papers.)

MARBLEHEAD—Six years ago, Sheila Vitale of Marblehead beat breast cancer. Even as she battled the disease, she continued playing the violin for the Boston Ballet. Now she’s meeting with local survivors to continue recovering an active lifestyle.

Vitale is one of eight cancer survivors who are participating in a new pilot program at the Lynch/van Otterloo YMCA on Leggs Hill Road in Marblehead. On Sept. 23, the organization partnered with the LIVESTRONG Foundation to offer a new 12-week fitness program for cancer survivors. Although the program has been underway at YMCAs across the nation—over 22 are in Massachusetts—Lynch/van Otterloo is the first to offer it on the North Shore.

“It really was very emotional for me to meet with the group and to say again that I am a cancer survivor,” said Vitale, 70. “Even though we are different ages and at different stages of treatment, the fact that we all have cancer in common gives us space to talk about things that worry us.”

The new group was launched, according to Health and Wellness Director at the Lynch/van Otterloo YMCA Jaime Bloch, because everyone knows someone who has been affected by cancer. “Our question was: what can we do?” she said. “We decided this was a great way to support survivors in our community, so we moved forward with it.”

Monday, October 7, 2013

Dogs Dress Up for Howl-O-Ween Contest


By Angie Sykeny
Gordon College News Service
October 1, 2013
(This story appeared Oct. 3, 2013, in the Beverly Your Town site of the Boston Globe, and in the print and online editions of The Salem News.)

BEVERLY—Kids aren’t the only ones who’ll be running around in costumes this Halloween. On Saturday, Oct. 5 from 12:00-3:00 pm at the Beverly Commons, owners will bring their costumed canines to compete in the Beverly Dog Park’s Fourth Annual Howl-O-Ween Costume Contest.  

“We came up with the costume contest four years ago to gain exposure for a potential dog park,” said Erinn Powers, 33, the park’s committee chair. “We wanted to let the community know we were working on finding land and raising money to put aside for the future park.”

According to Powers, the contest caught the attention of Beverly’s Mayor William Scanlon. As a dog owner himself, Scanlon supported the idea for a dog park and proposed several locations. After a public meeting held at the Beverly Public Library, it was decided that Paddle’s Park, named after the mayor’s golden retriever, would be located on LP Henderson road next to the Beverly Municipal Airport.

Powers said there are usually about 30-40 entries of people with their pooches at each Howl-O-Ween contest. Last year, a couple from Boston won the grand prize with their dog Chip as the Lorax and themselves as trees.

Halloween’s History Screens at Salem Cinema

Paul Van Ness
By Dave Hicks
Gordon College News Service
Oct. 3, 2013
This story appeared Oct. 4, 2013, in the Salem Your Town site of the Boston Globe.)

SALEM, MA—When Terry Peters, 55, of Ohio saw the Halloween decorations in downtown Salem, he had only a vague idea of how the holiday came to be. “I know it has something to do with Old Hollows’ Eve,” he said. “I think trick-or-treating started a little later?”

But Peters appears to know more than most. When asked about the history of Halloween, some Salem residents admit they don’t know. Even employees at a downtown magic shop laughed at the question, shrugged their shoulders, and dispersed.

“Salem could be considered the Halloween capital of the world,” said film director and co-owner of CinemaSalem Paul Van Ness, 66. “Tens of thousands of tourists will come here to celebrate it. But if you ask most people where these traditions come from, you’ll find that they really have no idea.”

Van Ness hopes that his new film, The History of Halloween, will change that. Shot entirely in the Salem area, the 35-minute film publically premiered at CinemaSalem on Friday, October 4, and will run throughout the month at the independent theater at One East India Square.

Local experts on the history of Halloween are impressed with the film’s historical veracity. “It’s very accurate,” said Erik Rodenhiser, owner of Gallows Hill Museum/Theater. “It gives you real information and makes you leave saying ‘Oh wow, I didn’t know that.’”

Salem Police, Residents at Odds on Halloween Curfews

Ann Whittier with grandson John-Iver Siegfried
 photo by Katherine Stephens
By Katherine Stephens
Gordon College News Service
Oct. 3, 2013
(This story appeared Oct. 4, 2013, in the Salem Your Town site of the Boston Globe.)

SALEM, MA—Grandmother and Salem resident for 42 years, Ann Whittier, pulls out all the stops for Halloween, decorating her house, trick-or-treating with her grandchildren, and participating in Salem’s Haunted Happenings events. Each year, Whittier meets people traveling from as far as Europe and the Midwest to experience Halloween in downtown Salem.

But Whittier also knows how frustrating it can be for visitors and locals when the Salem Police Department moves in at 10 p.m. and forms a barricade to shut down Haunted Happenings.

“People are shocked that they are pushed out of Haunted Happenings. I don’t think it’s a good idea, because a large percentage is adults, who need time to celebrate, and Halloween is a nice time to celebrate,” said Whittier. “It sort of shows disrespect to the people who have come all the way to Salem to celebrate. I wish there was more of a middle road.”

But with 60,000 to 80,000 people expected to attend this year’s Halloween from all over the country and even the world and in light of the Boston Marathon bombings, the Salem Police Department says it is strengthening security for the event and taking extra precautions to maintain a family friendly environment.

“We do always have people resisting, because no one wants to go home. People are having a good time," said Lieutenant Kate Stephens, who’s worked for the Salem Police Department since 1996.