EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

December 2, 2012

Editorial: Some cheers, some jeers for recent newsmakers


The Eagle-Tribune

---- — CHEERS to Salem police Sgt. Michael Wagner and Officer John O’Donnell for their rescue of a bald eagle caught in a trap. Cheers also to James Ransom of Methuen and a friend who were scouting possible hunting areas when they found the eagle.

The eagle was caught when it was feeding on a skinned beaver that had been placed as bait in the trap. There was nothing illegal about the trap, which was properly registered.

The eagle’s leg and wing had become entangled in the trap. The police officers placed a blanket over the eagle and donned heavy gloves to work on freeing it. The eagle had only a minor cut on one talon and quickly flew away after the blanket was removed.

Wagner said the call was among the more memorable and rewarding he has had in his career.

“I wouldn’t call myself an animal expert, just an animal lover,” Wagner told reporter Doug Ireland. “I would do anything to help a poor animal in distress.”

The eagle itself turned out to have an interesting story. The bird was banded and the serial numbers there led to the discovery that the eagle had been hatched in 2005 near the Scituate Reservoir in Rhode Island. The eagle, believed to be a female, is part of one of the 35 nesting pairs living in New Hampshire.

Well done to those who helped rescue this majestic bird.

JEERS to the twisted tales told by speeders.

Leonard Thomas Jr. of Methuen told a New Hampshire judge he had been speeding because he was rushing to get a part to fix a malfunctioning freezer at the Tuscan Kitchen restaurant in Salem. Thomas had been stopped on Route 28 traveling between 62 mph and 67 mph in a zone where the speed limit is 30 mph. That level of infraction normally would result in up to a 30-day suspension of a driver’s license.

Judge Robert Stephen told Thomas that while saving the restaurant food was “a noble purpose,” it did not meet the emergency test under New Hampshire law.

When Stephen asked the officer who gave out the ticket what excuse Thomas had given, the officer replied that Thomas had said his shoelace was caught on the accelerator.

Whoops! Seems there’s a bit of a discrepancy there.

Still, the judge was willing to give Thomas a break and reduce the offense so he would not lose his license — until police prosecutor Jason Grosky asked him to look closely at Thomas’s driving record. Thomas had a record of speeding in three states that Stephen deemed “incredible.”

Stephen suspended Thomas’ license for 30 days.

And so justice was served.

JEERS to poor care of veterans’ graves.

All too often, we hear reports of poor conditions of the graves of veterans and non-veterans alike in local cemeteries. The latest comes from Elmwood Cemetery in Methuen, where people attending a Veterans Day ceremony were upset that veterans’ graves were left covered with leaves and without American flags.

“The cemetery looked disgusting,” said City Councilor Tom Ciulla at a recent meeting. “Veterans were crying actually looking at the gravestones. … Children, families, they were very, very upset.”

DPW Director Raymond DiFiore said the graves were supposed to be cleared and have flags placed but there was “a miscommunication.” Methuen Veterans Services Director Thomas Hargreaves said he will communicate plans to the DPW for next Veterans Day and Memorial Day two weeks in advance.

We owe our veterans at least this much: that their graves are presentable when we hold ceremonies to honor their service.