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Newburyport’s Immaculate Conception School bids farewell to longtime teacher

June 9, 2014 04:42 PM

By Ginny Little, Guest Correspondent

NEWBURYPORT – While June 20th will mark the end of the school year for many students in the Newburyport area, it will also conclude forty years of dedicated classroom teaching by one of the Immaculate Conception School’s longest-serving teachers.

To put this in perspective, when Sister Mary Braley first arrived in Newburyport and began her classroom duties at the IC, President Richard Nixon had just resigned the presidency, the Vietnam War had not officially ended, the old YMCA was still standing on State Street, and Byron Mathews was the City’s mayor.

Though she will turn out the lights in her second grade classroom for the final time this June, Sister Mary plans to remain involved at the school as a classroom aide. But Sister Mary’s departure from the daily duties of classroom teaching also marks the end of a larger tradition that began in 1882, when the Immaculate Conception School was founded by the Sisters of Charity of Nazareth, the same religious order to which Sister Mary belongs. She is the last of her order to teach at the school founded over 130 years ago by the Sisters of Charity of Nazareth.

The positive impact made on Newburyport by the Immaculate Conception and its founders is still felt today. Dedicated to promoting peace and social justice since its founding, the Sisters of Charity of Nazareth began its educational ministry shortly after its founding in Nazareth, Kentucky, in 1812.

Just seventy years later, nine young sisters arrived in Newburyport at the request of the Reverend Arthur Teeling of the Immaculate Conception Parish. Newburyport was the first educational mission of the Sisters of Charity of Nazareth to venture east of the Mississippi. Reminders of the Sisters’ influence at Immaculate Conception are still present, most notably in the school’s symbol of the female pelican feeding her starving young with her own blood, a reference to the Sisters’ selfless devotion to students and their commitment to helping future generations.

On September 4, 1882, the Sisters welcomed 520 students into a new school building near the site of the present school. This new “throng of students” at the new Immaculate Conception School, as one historian wrote, helped to relieve the burden on Newburyport’s public school system to the point where two of the city’s public schools could be closed. The number of students flocking to the Immaculate Conception School increased quickly, and there were 700 children enrolled at IC by the end of the second scholastic year.

Sister Mary began her educational ministry in Kentucky, teaching briefly in Ohio before settling in Newburyport. From teaching proper handwriting to ensuring that her second graders know the Church’s Act of Contrition and are ready to receive their First Holy Communion, Sister Mary has been a cornerstone of early education at the Immaculate Conception School.

Though she has taught the first and third grades as well, Sister Mary says she has constantly been drawn to the second grade. “It seems that everywhere I’ve taught, there was a second grade class who needed a teacher,” says Sister Mary. Believing it was part of God’s plan for her to teach the second grade course of study, preparing her students for their first holy sacraments “has certainly been a highlight of each year” for Sister Mary.

Generations of Immaculate Conception School graduates who have passed through Sister Mary’s classroom recall her attention to detail, her unyielding patience, and her dedication to ensuring her students receive the best education possible. In her forty years of education in Newburyport, she has taught hundreds of youngsters their math facts, spelling, science and reading.

Combining the traditional Zaner-Bloser method of penmanship with modern SMART board classroom technology, Sister Mary enriches her students with her years of experience. Having been taught by Sisters of Charity herself, Sister Mary remembers her teachers’ “sense of joy in their ministry,” and, she explains, “I wanted to be like that, too!”

While greatly appreciated by parents, alumni, and her peers, Sister Mary’s classroom expertise and years of service to others has not gone unnoticed beyond the walls of the school. In 2012, Cardinal Sean O’Malley of the Archdiocese of Boston honored her with the prestigious Cheverus Award, given by the Archdiocese to those who have shown exemplary service to the Church and God’s people. That year was also Sister Mary’s Golden Jubilee, marking the fiftieth anniversary of her entering into the community of the Sisters of Charity of Nazareth.

Though she will remain very involved in the school, Sister Mary will miss greeting her new group of second graders each fall as she has done for so many years. “I will miss the new beginnings each year, when I get to welcome thirty students into my classroom and into my heart.” For Sister Mary, the “ministry of teaching . . . has been God’s work, and I am most grateful to have had the opportunity.”

Virginia “Ginny” Little is a sixth grade student at the Immaculate Conception School. She fondly recalls her second grade year with Sister Mary Braley.

Stolen beagle from MSPCA in Methuen returned; Couple faces charges

November 20, 2013 09:34 AM

MSPCA-Angell photos

Sophie appears to be walked out the door by the man and taken to the couples' car.

The MSPCA has reported that Sophie, the beagle taken from the MSPCA-Nevins Farm in Methuen, was returned Tuesday morning by the man seen on videotape along with his wife as they left the shelter with her over the weekend.  

ccording to MSPCA spokesman Rob Halpin, the couple is facing larceny charges, but the Methuen Police Department will not release their names or place of residence until an arraignment date has been set. Halpin said the MSPCA has been assured the couple will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.

The publicity surrounding the case prompted the couple to come forward and return Sophie to the MSPCA’s care, Halpin said. 

The dog is well and is under close watch by the shelter staff, Halpin said. Would-be adopters can contact Nevins Farm director Mike Keiley at

The dog was taken from the Methuen adoption center at about 1:30 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 16.

The stolen dog, a 7-year-old beagle named “Sophie,” weighs about 40 pounds, is mostly white with a brown face, and has black fur covering much of her back. Surveillance video from Nevins Farm’s recently installed video monitoring system shows a white couple, who appear to be in their 60s, standing in the adoption center lobby before the man — wearing a white jacket over black slacks — is seen exiting the rear door with Sophie.


Sophie's alleged abductors getting into their silver Jeep Liberty.

The couple was then filmed getting into what appears to be a newer model silver Jeep Liberty and driving off.

This is the second beagle (and third dog) stolen from Nevins Farm in the past year. The previous three dogs all were returned anonymously to the organization’s fenced outdoor exercise area within 48 hours of being taken. 

Mike Keiley, director at Nevins Farm, hoped that the video monitoring system would enable the Methuen police to identify the suspects.

It’s possible that these are the people who have made previous attempts at stealing a beagle from our facility," Keiley said. "They clearly did their homework and knew the layout of the adoption center and how to escape with a dog without being seen by staff.”

Keiley said the couple likely arrived with their own leash, making it easier for them to escape with Sophie. 


The couple in question - circled in red - in the crowded MSPCA Nevins Farm lobby before allegedly leaving with Sophie.

Mayors in Lynn, Salem, Gloucester, Newburyport re-elected

November 5, 2013 10:19 PM

Lynn Mayor Judith Flanagan Kennedy sailed to a second four-year term, defeating councilor at large Timothy Phelan by 9,258 votes to 6,403.

Kennedy made headlines four years ago as Lynn’s first woman elected as mayor. She and Phelan, a councilor at large, both have been strong city-wide vote getters, but Kennedy appeared to have the edge after outpolling Phelan by a wide margin in a no-elimination preliminary.

In Amesbury, four-term Mayor Thatcher W. Kezer, III lost his bid for reelection by eight votes, or 2,088 to 2,080, according to figures from the mayor. Kezer said he planned to seek a recount.

Across the state, voters headed to the polls to elect mayors, city councilors, school committee members and other local officials in about 59 communities in addition to Boston.

In Beverly, former state representative Michael P. Cahill defeated City Councilor D. Wesley Slate, Jr. to succeed retiring longtime Mayor William F. Scanlon, Jr. Cahill, a former city council president, had 5,752 votes to 4,563 for Slate, who had Scanlon’s endorsement.

Mayors Donna D. Holaday of Newburyport, Carolyn Kirk of Gloucester, Kimberley Driscoll of Salem, and Stephen N. Zanni of Methuen, all won handily to earn new terms.

In Gloucester, Kirk garnered 4,724 votes to 2,979 for Mac Bell, a former city councilor. The totals of a write-in candidate, Joseph Palmisano, were unavailable, but 400 write-in votes overall were cast.

Driscoll coasted to a fourth four-year term in Salem, picking up 4,996 votes to 1,093 for Cedric Ashley, a political newcomer.

In Newburyport, Holaday picked up 3,384 votes to 2,796 for city councilor Richard E. Sullivan Jr., in her bid for a third term. Sullivan, whom Holaday narrowly outpolled in a three-way preliminary, is son of the late mayor Richard E. Sullivan and brother of Christopher Sullivan, a former city councilor and interim mayor.

Crane Estate art show features local and student artists

November 4, 2013 10:55 AM
art show pic[1] (1).JPG

Evan Sullivan displaying his work.

By Angie Sykeny, Gordon College News Service

When Montserrat College of Art junior Evan Sullivan began creating his series of art prints about re-urbanization, he was doing it for a class assignment, not an art show. Now, at the suggestion of his printmaking professor Len Thomas-Vickory, Sullivan will have one of his silk screen prints from the series on display at the 10th Annual Crane Estate Art Show and Sale Nov. 9 and 10 in Ipswich.
“The assignment was to make a poster that promotes something,’” said Sullivan. His series of posters contains several variations of a four-color traffic jam with suburban homes and a city center with walking pedestrians.
“We created the suburbs with the best intentions but we are actually destroying the nature around us to build them,” he said. “Reurbanization is about bringing people back to the cities, but also to change the cities, make them more walkable and eco-friendly to preserve the natural landscape around us.”
Sullivan’s pieces reflect the greater theme of this year’s show, hosted by the Trustees of Reservations, “Shifting Perspectives.” All of the art highlights some aspect of North Shore landmarks and landscapes, and sales will benefit both the Trustees and the artists.  The show is free to attend and will run from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. both days at Castle Hill on the Crane Estate.
According to Thomas-Vickory, Sullivan is one of 40-50 Montserrat students submitting paintings, drawings, printmaking, and photography pieces for the event. It is the College’s fourth year having work in the show, but many local high schools also have students participating, including Beverly, Danvers, Ipswich, and Peabody. According to Trina Schell, public programs and volunteer manager of the Trustees, there will be nearly 150 pieces of student art featured in the Casino Complex.
The show is an opportunity not only for students, but for other local artists as well. In the Great House there will be over 150 pieces by 69 different local artists, and in the outside space between the Great House and the Casino Complex, there will be sculptures by six different sculptors.  
“We have some of the top artists on the North Shore,” said Schell. “The quality of the art is just fabulous.”
Local artist Sandra Belock-Phippen of Wenham has regularly had her work in the show, and almost every year it has sold. She said her inspiration comes predominantly from the salt marshes in the area.
“I hope my work rings true with viewers,” she said. “That they come away with the sense of color, beauty and drama I find in nature.” 
In addition to two large pieces, Belock Phippen will also submit a few pieces for the “small works gallery.” Schell said this gallery of 8x8 or small pieces appeals to the more casual buyer who doesn’t have the money or the wall space for a big-framed piece, but can still find space for “that perfect little find.”
But the show has more than just open galleries. From a giant chalkboard where they can contribute their own flair to a game of “art eye spy,” visitors are encouraged to be interactive and have fun. They will even have the opportunity to vote for their favorite piece to win the People’s Choice Award. The work with the most votes will be featured in the publicity material for next year’s show.
But for Sullivan, art isn’t about the money or the publicity—it’s about the process.
“I do it because I enjoy it,” he said, “but I create it for other people to see. I’ve never had the intention of selling my art, but if someone wanted to buy it, I would be honored to share it with them.” 

This article is being published under an arrangement between the Boston Globe and the Gordon College News Service

Richard Tisei eyes another run against US Rep. John Tierney

October 28, 2013 10:56 AM

Former state Senate Minority Leader Richard Tisei of Wakefield may make another run at being elected to Congress.

Tisei was Republican gubernatorial candidate Charlie Baker’s running mate in their losing effort in 2010 and in 2012 nearly unseated Congressman John Tierney, pulling in 47.1 percent of the vote to 48.3 percent for Tierney.

On Monday morning, Tisei announced he’s creating a committee to more actively explore another run and plans to make a formal announcement later this fall about his plans.

In a statement, Tisei said, “Like most Americans, I have been deeply disturbed by the dysfunction we are witnessing in Washington. The critical challenges facing our country have not diminished since 2012. Rather, they seem to be getting worse. The hyper-partisanship exhibited by both parties on a daily basis has created a stranglehold on our government and is preventing us from moving forward. We are a great country, but we clearly have reached a point where we need new leadership and a fresh start. We need more responsible Republicans and fewer divisive Democrats in Washington who are willing to stop the name calling, put party aside, and begin to seriously work together to do what is right for America.”

Tierney edged Tisei by 4,330 votes and Tisei won in 29 of the 39 communities in the Sixth Congressional District. Tisei, who served 26 years in the House and Senate on Beacon Hill, runs a real estate firm with his partner Bernie Starr.

- M. Norton/SHNS

Joppa Flat in Merrimack River estuary to be open for softshell clam harvest

October 16, 2013 02:51 PM

The following is a press release from the Department of Fish and Game

The Massachusetts Department of Fish and Game and the Division of Marine Fisheries (DMF) announced that 250 acres of Joppa Flat in the Merrimack River estuary will be open for the commercial harvest of softshell clams by specially licensed commercial diggers.

“I am happy to credit the city of Newburyport and the staff of our Division of Marine Fisheries for the hard work that was necessary to open this area to commercial clammers,” said Department of Fish and Game Commissioner Mary Griffin.

“Massachusetts’ soft shell clam harvest is worth five to six million dollars annually and the opening of Joppa Flat will benefit commercial shell fishermen in the area who rely on open and productive flats for their livelihood.”

The reclassification and reopening of the Joppa Flat allows the conditionally restricted commercial harvest of softshell clams (Mya arenaria). Under the restrictions, harvesting is limited to weekdays only and must be conducted by specially licensed diggers. The clams must be treated at the DMF depuration plant. Harvesting for direct human consumption remains prohibited.

Once considered among the top clam producing flats in Massachusetts, bacterial contamination had shut down this highly productive bed for over 80 years. Improved water quality and a comprehensive management plan developed with the City of Newburyport, has allowed the area to be reopened. The restrictive state and local harvesting regulations will ensure clams harvested from the area are safe to eat.

Rainfall will trigger episodes of bacterial contamination in excess of national standards. Accordingly, the area will be closed to shellfishing for five to seven days after rainfalls of 0.25 inches or greater. Rainfalls of 1.50 inches or greater will result in longer closures subject to re-sampling.

Softshell clams and other bivalve mollusks become contaminated by filtering both harmless and pathogenic, or disease-causing, bacteria and viruses from seawater during feeding and respiration. Contaminated shellfish can transmit these organisms to humans if the shellfish are eaten raw or under-cooked.

At the DMF Shellfish Purification Plant, the clams are placed on pallets and then lowered into one of nine 3,500 gallon tanks for depuration. Depuration is a self-cleansing process where the shellfish purge their digestive system of particulates in clean seawater; the shellfish are typically clean after two to three days at the plant.

The Merrimack River was once considered one of the nation’s ten most polluted rivers. This reopening is due to concerted clean-up efforts begun over 20 years ago by local, state and federal programs and an aggressive re-sampling initiative by DMF. The reopening encompasses over 251 acres of the southeastern portion of the Joppa Flat, while the northwest section remains closed. Joppa Flat will join some 534 acres of Merrimack River estuary clam flats in Newburyport and Salisbury that were reopened in 2006.

For further information on city requirements, contact the Newburyport Harbormaster & Shellfish Constable Paul Hogg at 978-462-3746. For further information on Marine Fisheries requirements and regulations, contact Jeff Kennedy at 978‑465‑3553 or Dave Roach at 978‑282‑0308.

Deleo, Coakley file bill to limit amount of required flood insurance

October 16, 2013 02:16 PM

Worried about new federal flood insurance rules sparking another foreclosure crisis in Massachusetts, House Speaker Robert DeLeo and Attorney General Martha Coakley on Wednesday partnered to file legislation limiting the amount of insurance homeowners in the flood zone must purchase.

Though the Winthrop Democrat said the state-level action could blunt the impact of new federal flood insurance regulations, DeLeo said Congress must still act to further protect the expanded group of coastal residents and businesses and those living near lakes and rivers who are now required to purchase more comprehensive and costly insurance.

“People aren’t going to be able to pay their insurance, and as a result of that they’re going to lose their home unless we can convince our friends in Washington, which right now I guess they’re a little bit involved with a couple other issues, but they’re really going to have to get on the ball and address this,” DeLeo told reporters after meeting with House Democrats.

The bill filed by DeLeo and Coakley would limit the amount of flood coverage a homeowner or business must purchase to the value of the mortgage on the property, instead of the replacement value of the home. Creditors would also be prohibited from requiring coverage for contents of the home, or including a deductible less than $5,000.

Taking one of the only steps a state can to limit the amount of coverage required under federal guidelines, the Beacon Hill leaders hope to lower premiums for impacted homeowners, while retaining the option for consumers to purchase more coverage if they desire.

“These new flood insurance changes are going to devastate many families and businesses in our coastal communities,” Coakley said in a statement. “We continue to urge the federal government to delay implementing these changes until they’ve followed all the steps required by law.”

Coakley said she did not expect insurers to have a “huge complaint” with the legislation.

The Biggert-Waters Flood Insurance Reform Act of 2012 required the Federal Emergency Management Agency to redraw national flood maps, and eliminated various subsidies in the National Flood Insurance Program to ensure sustainability.

Critics, however, say the new maps have captured large swaths of real estate at little to no risk of flooding, forcing larger numbers of property owners to purchase insurance. New rules governing the required height of buildings and other structural requirements for properties in the flood zone have also driven up the price tags on policies.

Rep. James Cantwell, a Marshfield Democrat, recently provided the News Service with a copy of an insurance bill for a Scituate homeowner that spiked up to $68,000 under the new program. He called the new FEMA flood maps “ridiculous.”

The homeowner, Peg Sullivan, told the News Service that she previously paid a $1,300 premium for the same coverage.

“It’s hurting our Massachusetts builders. It’s hurting our Massachusetts realtors. Right now, all up and down the coast, we have essentially people are being frozen out. They can’t sell their homes, and people aren’t buying because there’s so much uncertainty about what their rates are going to be for their flood insurance. The speaker taking swift action right now is so warranted and so helpful and I’m thrilled to be joining with him,” Cantwell said.

Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Edward Markey and the state’s entire Congressional delegation recently sent a letter to House and Senate leadership urging a delay in the Biggert-Waters reforms.

Cantwell said budget cuts limited FEMA's ability to review its surveys, and the government shutdown, which began Oct. 1, has placed on furlough the governmental affairs person at FEMA whom he speaks to about constituents' concerns. Scituate and Marshfield hired their own consultant to contest the FEMA maps.

Cantwell, whose bill (H 865) had a hearing last month calling on the Division of Insurance to regularly investigate the National Flood Insurance Program, said he’s “cautiously optimistic” that DeLeo’s bill can be heard and brought forward for a vote before the end of the year.

Though he made clear the “ultimate answer” must still come from Washington, DeLeo said he hopes that by tying the insurance requirements in Massachusetts to the value of a mortgage, property owners will fare “significantly better” than they would under the federal guidelines.

“We’re truly going to see people losing their homes, not from floods, but from flood insurance,” DeLeo said.

Democratic challenger to US Rep. John Tierney outraises him

October 15, 2013 06:04 PM

Targeted almost daily by national Republicans, U.S. Rep. John Tierney raised $251,216 in the third quarter of 2013 as he gears up for a re-election contest in a little less than a year, but was outpaced by his Democratic challenger Seth Moulton of Salem.

Moulton raised $355,548 from July through August, and had $301,735 in cash on hand, according to his campaign. Tierney’s quarterly report filed with the Federal Elections Commission showed the Salem Democrat raising a quarter of a million dollars, and finishing the third quarter with $561,155 in cash on hand.

Moulton, an Iraq war veteran and vice chairman on the board of directors of Eastern Healthcare Partners, launched his primary challenge to Tierney earlier this year after the incumbent staved off a strong Republican challenge from former state Sen. Richard Tisei in 2012 following a controversy over his wife’s involvement in her brother’s illegal offshore gambling operations.

Tierney will be running for a 10th term representing the 6th Congressional district in 2014. - M. Murphy/SHNS

Brandeis teammates to gather, including former quarterback Jimmy Stehlin

October 7, 2013 04:17 PM

WALTHAM — The wooden bleachers that ringed three sides of Gordon Field were torn down in the mid-1970s.

Saldi’s Pizzeria on Felton Street, where Brandeis University’s football players and their fans celebrated after home victories, no longer exists.

Neither does the football program, the result of a board of trustees vote in 1960 that brought to a close a long-forgotten — but very successful and colorful — era in Brandeis athletics.

The Judges posted winning seasons in five of their nine years as a varsity program. The 1957 squad, which shut out New Hampshire and Northeastern and blew out Massachusetts on Homecoming Day, posted the best record ( 6-1) in the short history of Brandeis football.

More than a half-century later, members of the ’57 team will huddle one more time on Saturday, gathering for their induction into the Brandeis Athletics Hall of Fame.

Globe subscribers can read the rest of the story here. And read this "Where are they now" sidebar.

Lahey Health continues expansion, with formal affiliation with Winchester Hospital

September 28, 2013 07:08 AM

The parent of 229-bed Winchester Hospital said Friday it has struck a formal affiliation agreement to become part of Lahey Health, which operates Lahey Hospital & Medical Center in Burlington, Beverly Hospital, and Addison Gilbert Hospital in Gloucester.

Lahey Health and Winchester Healthcare Management signed a letter of intent in June to affiliate. The formal agreement disclosed Friday is subject to state and federal regulatory approval. The parties said Winchester Hospital patients would maintain access to their hospital-affiliated doctors but be referred to Lahey specialists for more complex clinical procedures.

The acquisition is part of the continuing consolidation in the Massachusetts hospital sector. Lahey has been expanding, especially north of Boston, in recent months.

In August, the Globe reported Lahey representatives met with from Anna Jaques Hospital in Newburyport to discuss a possible affiliation, and signed an agreement with Atrius Health that designates Lahey Hospital & Medical Center in Burlington as a preferred hospital for the medical group’s patients in the Burlington area.

The Globe also reported in August that Lahey has held ongoing talks to merge with Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center.

Ellen Lutch Bender, president of Bender Strategies, a Newton health care consulting firm, told the Globe that he thinks Lahey is positioning itself as an attractive option to smaller hospitals that realize they cannot continue to operate independently.

“As hospitals are perusing alignment strategies, there will be very few institutions that will be standing alone at the end of the day. Nobody wants to be the hospital that doesn’t have a seat at the table when the music stops,” Bender said.

The Globe also reported in August that, with the help of a $130 million tax-exempt bond awarded by the state, Lahey Health plans to spend over $170 million on its hospital facilities, with a new $162 million electronic medical records system as the centerpiece.

MassDevelopment, the state’s finance and development agency, issued the bond to Lahey Hospital & Medical Center in June.

Dr. Howard Grant, Lahey Health’s chief executive officer, said the hospital also plans to purchase medical equipment for radiology, operating rooms, cancer services, information technology infrastructure, and telemetry monitors. Lahey will spend over $12 million to build a new cogeneration power plant at its Burlington medical center, the Globe reported in August.

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