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Top Stories of 2011 for the NoBo Region

MASSACHUSETTS – Here’s our list of the NoBo region’s top stories for 2011. You may notice many of the stories are from the latter part of the year, as our BETA launch went into full effect in September. We thank you for a great start, and look forward to providing you with continued coverage of everything that makes the region north of Boston so unique. Happy New Year!

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10. The story about the Saugus Santa Ban went national after it became fodder for Bill O’Reilly on his program. Supt. Langlois Richard Langlois was called a “pinhead” and “idiot” after receiving backlash for banning a forty-nine year tradition in the town when a firefighter dressed as Santa Claus visits the public school. Langlois reversed his decision just later in the day. Watch the video here.

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9. It was a sad Christmas in Peabody after Firefighter James Rice died two days before the holiday battling a blaze. A week later, nearly a thousand firefighters from across North America gathered for the funeral procession which included a State Police motorcycle detail followed by two Peabody fire department trucks. The Ladder 1 truck carried flowers while the Engine 5 truck carried the body and casket of Rice. Governor Deval Patrick, Lieutenant Governor Tim Murray, and state Fire Marshall Stephen D. Coan also took part in the procession. His funeral marked the second time firefighters from across the region flooded the state in honor of a fallen hero. Jon D. Davies Sr., a 17-year veteran of the Worcester Fire Department, died in the collapse of a burning three-decker earlier in December. His funeral was held on December 15.

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8. An EBT scandal involving Lynn convenience stores and crack erupted controversy regarding welfare in the Commonwealth late in the year. Federal and Lynn police busted four convenience stores, arresting eight who are accused of selling crack in exchange for EBT payments. Hopefully, the New Year will lead to better monitoring how these funds are being used in order to ensure that this vital program may continue on to help those truly in need.

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Governor Deval Patrick and Lt. Governor Tim Murray welcome the twelve newly-elected mayors of the Commonwealth.

7. Mayor Richard Howard of Malden and Mayor Tom Ambrosino of Revere announce they will not seek reelection to their posts after decades of service in the communities. While Mayor Tom Ambrosino has not announced his plans for the future, Mayor Howard will move on to the neighboring Winchester after being chosen as the town’s top administrator. Howard will be succeeded by Mayor-Elect Gary Christenson while Ambrosino will be succeeded by Mayor-Elect Dan Rizzo.

 

 

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6. The Race for the People’s Seat heated up as Elizabeth Warren emerged this fall as the clear rival of Senator Scott Brown in the 2012 election. Polls have placed Warren within striking distance of the popular Republican who defeated Attorney General Martha Coakley in a special election following the death of Senator Ted Kennedy. As of late, Brown has increased his rhetoric, and seems to be gearing up for a campaign that he has described as looking tough himself.

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5. Despite efforts at the local, state, and federal level to spur recovery, the housing market saw just slight gains towards the end of 2011, and single-family home sales in Massachusetts are not likely to top 40,000 according to the Warren Group. These represent the lowest numbers since 1991, and analysts have predicted the market will likely continue on its current roller coaster ride into 2012.

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4. The Chelsea Housing Chief resigns amid salary and pension scandal. Michael E. McLaughlin was the head of the Chelsea Housing Authority, but abruptly resigned from his $360,000-a-year position on November 3 after Governor Patrick expressed outrage over his salary. A series of articles by the Boston Globe have uncovered and revealed years of abuse by McLaughlin in a city plagued by corruption and crime over the last half-century.

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3. A former library employee in the Town of Saugus was arrested by FBI agents in early December after being indicted on 4 counts of mail fraud, 10 counts of money laundering, and 1 count of aggravated identity theft. Linda E. Duffy, 65, drained more than $800,000 from a decoy bank account at Eastern Bank in the name of the Saugus Public Library beginning in 2004 until her resignation in July. Duffy has pleaded guilty, after being charged in federal court, but was released after posting $100,000 bail late in the afternoon. The indictment released by prosecutors alleges that Duffy diverted charitable donations, as well as checks intended to pay library fees and fines, to a decoy account after which she slowly transferred the funds to her own personal account at Eastern Bank. The money was eventually used for personal expenses, including jewelry, home repairs, automotive payments, and her home mortgage. Duffy’s personal home located on Central St. may eventually be taken if convicted.

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2. Massachusetts Congressional districts were reshuffled this year as legislative leaders released a sweeping plan Nov. 7 for the state’s congressional districts. The proposed changes attempt to remedy decades-old issues, but created a number of political problems for the members of the Massachusetts delegation. The changes will have some impact on the NoBo region. The City of Everett, represented by Malden Congressman Ed Markey for more than two decades, has been added into the district currently represented by Congressman Michael Capuano. The new district includes his hometown of Somerville, extends into Boston, and ends at Randolph and Milton. The district will be on the only grouping in the Commonwealth that has a majority of nonwhite residents. The North Shore district represented by John F. Tierney, a Salem Democrat, faces a serious challenged by former Senate minority leader Richard R. Tisei, a socially liberal Republican. The addition of Billerica and Tewksbury to the district has increased Tisei’s chance at an upset.

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1. Governor Deval Patrick signed a bill to bring casino gambling to Massachusetts in November, bringing an end to a years-long battle. The legislation may have paved way for a full-scale or slot parlor casino in the NoBo region. East Boston and Revere have become an obvious choice as a possible expansion to the Suffolk Downs track. Should the project move forward, jobs and revenue would be added to the local economy. The newly-elected Mayor of Revere Dan Rizzo told NoBo Magazine in an interview last week that he supports the project.

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