EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

January 6, 2014

Editorial: Some cheers, some jeers for recent newsmakers

The Eagle-Tribune

---- — CHEERS to area snow plow crews, who did a generally good job clearing up after the massive storm that hit us Thursday and Friday.

The plow crews were surely helped by the decision to cancel school in nearly all school districts both days and the fact that most businesses let employees leave early Thursday, avoiding the rush-hour nightmare that occurred during the December snowstorm.

The latest storm dropped wildly varying amounts of light, fluffy snow with generally 12 to 15 inches across the interior of the Merrimack Valley and lesser amounts in Southern New Hampshire. The northeast wind drove moisture-laden air into the cold air over land, resulting in pockets of nearly two feet of snow along the coast and as far inland as Boxford.

Despite the varying conditions, plow crews kept roads open across the region. We appreciate the good effort.

JEERS, of a mild sort, for a questionable decision to keep a school system open during the early stages of the storm.

Most school systems across the area closed schools Thursday and Friday. The sole exception was the Pentucket Regional School District, which serves the communities of West Newbury, Merrimac and Groveland.

Superintendent Jeffrey Mulqueen made the decision to open the schools Thursday. Mulqueen told our reporter that the forecast available early Thursday morning didn’t seem too severe.

“The storm was anticipated to deliver two to four inches by 7 p.m. tonight, and there was supposed to be a window of clearing coming through in the afternoon,” Mulqueen said Thursday afternoon. “Those things didn’t happen, and that led to our having school today and some of the difficulties people are facing now.”

Many students opted to stay home and 8 to 10-percent of the student body was absent. There were a number of problems for students who did make the trip to school. The Donaghue Elementary School in Merrimac experienced an equipment malfunction in its kitchen, forcing the school to come up with an alternative lunch to offer the students. And a bus carrying students home in Merrimac was rear-ended by another vehicle. No injuries were reported. Schools were closed Friday.

Mulqueen said the decision to hold or cancel school comes down to student and staff safety. That’s as it should be.

Given the conditions and the decision to cancel by every other school district, the decision to hold school in the Pentucket district was a poor one.

CHEERS to Lawrence Mayor Daniel Rivera for his decision to oppose the licensing of any medical marijuana facilities in the city.

The state Department of Public Health is beginning the process of establishing and issuing licenses to operate medical marijuana dispensaries across the state. Local officials cannot prohibit dispensaries from opening in their communities, but they can restrict where they may operate.

Rivera said he will contact the DPH to let them know of his opposition to a dispensary in Lawrence. One of the factors DPH will consider in issuing a license is community support.

“I understand the medical efficacy of it. I’m not trying to fight that reasoning,” Rivera told reporter Douglas Moser. “But Lawrence has had its share of, let’s call it controversial issues. We don’t want to add that. The community here voted against it. We’re trying to change our perception here. We want people to know we’re doing things that are not controversial.”

Massachusetts voters approved the use of marijuana for debilitating medical conditions in 2012 by a vote of 63 to 37 percent. Lawrence residents voted against the initiative by 51-49 percent.

Kudos to Mayor Rivera for standing up for the will of Lawrence voters.