EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

March 18, 2013

Editorial: Some cheers, some jeers for recent newsmakers

The Eagle-Tribune

---- — CHEERS to Sergeant Doreen Champagne, who recently became Haverhill’s first female superior officer.

Champagne was first inspired to a career in law enforcement when a Haverhill police officer visited her third-grade classroom.

“I remember asking him if a girl could be a police officer, and he said sure, we have one now,” Champagne, 37, said yesterday during the ceremony held at Mayor James Fiorentini’s office.

That officer, the now-retired Joseph Spero, was on hand to see Champagne promoted to sergeant. Spero presented her with her stripes.

“It was an easy decision to promote Doreen,” police Chief Alan DeNaro said. “She’s a dedicated, hard worker and is an asset to the department and the community. I’m excited to have her on our management team.”

Champagne is a 1994 graduate of St. Mary High School in Lawrence. She joined the Haverhill Police Department in 2004 and is one of six female officers in the department, but is the first woman to hold a rank above private in the city’s history, according to Mayor James Fiorentini. Champagne is also the only officer in the department with a law degree.

Congratulations to Sgt. Champagne and best wishes for continued success in her career.

Thanks also to former officer Spero for his long-ago influence on a young girl’s life. Many of us in our professional lives frequently have these kinds of encounters with children during office tours or on career days and the like. We tend not to give them much thought. But they can have a profound effect on the course of young lives. That’s worth a little more thoughtful consideration.

JEERS for the expensive and long-term fallout of shoddy workmanship.

Lawrence has already spent or dedicated $4 million toward the cleanup of a mold infestation at the Guilmette School. Now, city Budget Director Mark Ianello has told the City Council it may cost as much as $3 million more.

The cause of the infestation was moisture collecting on frigid air conditioning pipes that were improperly insulated against the summer heat, a lawyer seeking to recover the cost of the cleanup from the contractor who built the school and its insurance company told the council.

The initial estimate to fix the mold problem was just $500,000 but that ballooned after the infestation was found to be more extensive than first thought. The Guilmette School was closed for most of the 2010-11 school year for cleaning and reconstruction.

But much of that reconstruction consisted of temporary fixes to allow the school to reopen in April 2011. The additional funds are needed to replace those temporary repairs with permanent fixes.

Attorney Jack McDonnell has filed lawsuits against Peabody Construction, the general contractor that built the Guilmette School about a decade ago, and Travelers’ Insurance, which insured the work, in an attempt to recover the city’s expenses.

“We’re looking at contracts and bidding documents much more closely,” City Attorney Charles Boddy told the council. “It’s been an eye-opening experience on the city side. We’re working to have something like this never happen again. We rely on our experts. When they let us down, we suffer the consequences.”

Lawrence has been incorporated as a city since 1853.

One would think the lesson of paying attention to details would have been learned by now.