Making waves over braids at Malden charter school
In May, Mystic Valley Regional Charter School in Malden drew worldwide attention over a dress code that prohibited hair braid extensions on the grounds they were “distracting.” When increased enforcement of the dress code resulted in detentions and suspensions, Attorney General Maura Healey said the rule disproportionately affected black female students and demanded the school immediately stop enforcing the policy. Colleen Cook, whose twin 15-year-old daughters, Deanna and Mya, attend Mystic Valley and served multiple detentions for wearing extensions, said she was delighted by the attorney general’s intervention. “Wow, just wow, this is so amazing,” Cook said. “I am so happy for the girls. They were put through so much.” The school removed the ban from its student handbook in August.
McGee ousts incumbent to become mayor of Lynn
In Lynn, popular state Senator Thomas McGee knocked two-term incumbent Judith Flanagan Kennedy out of the mayor’s seat in November. McGee, a Democrat, won more than 64 percent of the vote. Much of the political conversation centered on the disposition of the candidates. Residents spoke of McGee, who has represented the city in both the House and Senate on Beacon Hill, as open-minded and accessible. “You deserve the city we all believe in,” McGee said in his campaign statement. Kennedy, a Republican, stirred controversy in 2014 when she said the city’s many immigrants from Central America were draining Lynn’s resources and overwhelming the schools. About of a third of Lynn’s residents were born outside of the United States, according to census estimates.
Salem takes a stand for immigrants
It doesn’t go as far as sanctuary city status, but an ordinance in Salem that reaffirms existing city policies regarding immigrants generated lots of controversy. Sanctuary for Peace, supported by Mayor Kim Driscoll, does not prohibit police from cooperating with federal authorities on matters of immigration. “It tells all of our immigrant neighbors, regardless of their status, that yes, they too can dial 911 when they see a house on fire, call the Salem Police if they’ve been the victim of a crime, get a library card, or visit their child’s school, without fear that we’re going to ask them for their papers,” Driscoll said in a Facebook post. The ordinance, which passed Nov. 7 with 54 percent of the vote, was originally approved by the City Council in April, but a citizens’ petition eventually forced it to be included on the citywide ballot.
On Route 1, down goes the Ship
The Ship, one of the last remaining landmark restaurants on Route 1, was torn down in August. Located in a red, landlocked ship built in Lynnfield by a retired Gloucester sea captain in the 1920s, it will be replaced by several retail buildings. The Ship is one of many Route 1 icons to come down in recent years. The Chinese restaurant Weylu’s, Hilltop Steakhouse, and Route 1 Miniature Golf — home of the orange dinosaur — were all demolished in recent years. Two old standards on the highway, both in Saugus, have withstood the test of time: The Leaning Tower of Pizza still tilts at Prince Pizzeria, and the tiki god still guards the entrance to the Kowloon.
Discovering Warhol in Amesbury
When Harriett Gould died in 2016, John McInnis Auctioneers was tasked with preparing the sale of her Amesbury estate. Little did they know that Gould possessed a stash of unseen artwork by Andy Warhol gifted to her late son, Jon, who has been described as Warhol’s muse. The estate sale, which took place Dec. 1-2, included about 140 lots of Warhol-related items. More than 2,700 bidders registered from over 20 countries, according to the auction house. The most expensive piece that sold was an aluminum-backed print of a tabloid front, which went for about $43,000. But the spotlight was on a sculpture of a broken canvas frame that Warhol had created for Jon Gould, unlike any of his other works. McInnis estimated the piece — called ‘‘Abstraction — A Gift to Jon Gould” — to be worth $500,000 to $1 million. Bidders failed to go that high, so the piece was returned to Harriet Gould’s heirs.
A growing business
Medical marijuana continued to grow in the region. Healthy Pharms, which opened last May in Georgetown, became the third dispensary in the area, joining facilities in Lowell and Salem. It was the 11th dispensary to open in the state since medical marijuana was legalized in 2012. Several dispensaries are planned to open in suburbs north of Boston in the coming years, including Gloucester, Ipswich, Danvers, and Revere.
In October, Georgetown approved a host agreement for a second medical marijuana business — a grow facility for GreenBridge Health — but plans have not yet been reviewed by the Planning Board. If it does go through, three businesses that have young clientele will need to move out of their abutting complex. Town law does not allow does marijuana facilities to operate within 300 feet of businesses where minors congregate.
Bag that plastic
Three municipalities north of Boston — Gloucester, Reading, and Wakefield — voted this year to ban plastic bags from retail shops. They join Hamilton, Ipswich, Manchester-by-the-Sea, Marblehead, Newburyport, and Salem. The most recent city to institute the ban, Gloucester, voted in November to start fining businesses that violate the rule $50 for the first offense, and more for subsequent ones, starting in January 2019. Supporters of the Gloucester ban say it will reduce the amount of plastic in landfills or littered throughout the city. Opponents said the city’s real issue was a lack of education and enforcement of litter laws.
Rallying for Talia
Talia Duff, an Ipswich sixth-grader, has CMT4J, an extremely rare disease that has symptoms similar to ALS and currently has no cure or treatment options. But Talia’s family, friends, and neighbors want that to change. In December, Ipswich Middle School created a video to spread Talia’s story and challenge others to donate to Cure CMT4J, a foundation started by Talia’s parents to fund human trials of a potential treatment for the disease. High schoolers across the region then organized a “tweetstorm,” using Twitter to send out the link and get it on celebrities’ timelines. So far, Cure CMT4J has raised $843,676 of its year-end goal of $1 million.
These will make you laugh, or at least smile.
To have and to hold: a Fiesta Burger
Wakefield couple Jessica Cushing and Shawn Cicerano were married in February at Wahlburgers in Lynnfield. The Wahlberg family-owned chain is the couple’s favorite restaurant. The general manager, Mark Rahall, got ordained to officiate the ceremony. Top chef Paul Wahlberg and matriarch Alma Wahlberg were in attendance.
Crowning glory for Nana the lab
North Reading chocolate lab Nana was chosen prom queen in June by a nationwide online competition held by the Grey Muzzle Organization to raise awareness about adopting senior dogs. Nana’s owner, Susan Demetri, adopted the now 14-year-old girl from the MSPCA at Nevins Farm in Methuen in 2016. Demetri reports Nana is still going strong.
Owl saves Newburyport tree
Timber the Eastern screech owl became a Newburyport hero in August when he saved a dead maple tree from the chopping block. The tree, located in Cushing Park, had been marked for the chainsaw after its falling branches were identified as dangerous. But once the Newburyport Parks Department heard Timber had made it his home, they decided to leave the tree standing. The tree’s limbs will be pruned this winter at night when Timber is out hunting.
Heading to the Super Bowl
Lynn-based flag-football team Massflag in September flew out to England (where they usually play football with their feet) to compete in an American football tournament and took the gold. The prize? An all-expense-paid trip for the whole team to the ultimate celebration of American football: Super Bowl LII. They’re hoping to see the Patriots in Minneapolis this February.
Engineering the perfect bagel
George Blanchette worked in engineering and manufacturing for 40 years. Unsatisfied with the retired life, he put his engineering skills to the test by opening a bagel shop in Ipswich. Blanchette had never baked before, and it took months of trial-and-error until he found the right recipe for his bagels. His shop, Jetties Bagels, opened in July.Laura Elyse King can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @lauraelyseking.